A perfectly natural question for truckers and customers or clients to ask, “How many pallets or skids can you fit on a trailer?” This is quite a tricky question, and the answer depends on the size of your van, the interior dimensions of the truck, the size of the pallets, the type of pallets, and how you pack or stack the pallets.
On a 53-foot dry van, you can fit 26 non-stackable standard-sized pallets that measure 48 inches long by 40 inches wide when straight loading them. When turning the pallets, you can load 30 non-stackables. If you have standard stackable pallets, you can fit 52 pallets.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about the number of pallets you can fit onto different sized trailers and more.
What Is the Standard Pallet Size?
The standard pallet size is 48 inches long x 40 inches wide; however, there’s also a second standard pallet size that’s 48 inches long and 48 inches wide.
The 48 inches x 40 inches pallet is usually used by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and it meets the food industry’s standards.
A standard pallet is 6 inches high. Clients or customers can stack up to 42 inches of product onto the pallet to reach a standard packing height of 48 inches.
A standard empty pallet weighs between 30 to 48 pounds, but this depends on what the pallet is made out of. Lightweight pallets can weigh even less than 30 pounds, and heavy-duty pallets can weigh more than 48 pounds.
In general, a pallet can hold 3,700 to 4,600 pounds of product. But how much weight a pallet can hold depends on its construction.
Plus, you need to consider how much cargo you can haul in your trailer before you start loading up.
In California, the maximum weight a truck can weigh is 80,000 pounds, and if you subtract 38,000 pounds for the weight of the trailer and truck, your cargo can weigh a max of 42,000 pounds.
This means that if you can load 26 pallets in your 53-foot van, each pallet can weigh 1,615 pounds maximum.
In some states, your truck and cargo can weigh 84,500 pounds in total.
Did you know? The terms skid and pallet are used interchangeably, but technically, they aren’t the same thing.
A pallet has a top and bottom deck and is used for transporting goods, while a skid only has a top deck and is commonly used for storage.
How Many Pallets Can Fit in a Trailer?
How many pallets fit in a trailer depends on a variety of factors:
- The size of the trailer
- How big the van is on the inside
- How you load the pallets (straight, turned, pinwheel, or for weight distribution)
- Whether the pallets are stackable or non-stackable – you can fit more stackable pallets in a van than the other variety
- Whether the pallet is a standard size
Only eight pallets fit on a 16-foot truck. There will be two rows of four pallets each.
Stacking the pallets means you can fit more in your truck, so you can fit 16 pallets maximum.
If you have a 24-footer, only 12 standard pallets will fit. You’ll have two rows of six pallets.
If you have stackable pallets, you can fit more cargo for a total of 24 pallets.
A 40-foot trailer can fit 20 standard pallets.
If you have a 45-foot cubed trailer, you can fit between 24 to 26 pallets (standard size ones of 48 inches x 40 inches).
You can fit 24 standard-sized pallets on a 48-foot trailer. You’ll have two rows of 12 pallets each.
If you can stack the pallets, you can fit 48 of them on a 48-foot truck.
The most common trailer in the USA is a 53-foot dry van.
The van is 53 feet or 636 inches long. The width and height of these trailers typically vary: the average interior can be 98 inches to 102 inches wide and 100 inches to 114 inches high.
If the pallets are standard-sized, you can fit two pallets side by side in the truck.
You can load more pallets on a 53-footer when the pallets are turned (when the pallet then “measures” 40” long x 48” wide ) versus loading them in straight (when the pallet then “measures” 48” long x 40” wide).
So you can fit 26 non-stackable pallets when they are loaded straight and 30 non-stackable pallets when they are turned.
If the pallets can be stacked, you can fit at least 52 in your 53-foot trailer.
For other pallet sizes, here’s how many you can generally fit into a dry van:
- 42 inches x 42 inches = fit 30
- 36 inches x 26 inches = fit 34
- 48 inches x 48 inches = fit 26
- 48 inches x 45 inches = fit 28
What Other Pallet Sizes Are Used for Trucks?
Various other pallet sizes are also used, and that’s why it’s essential to find out what pallets the customer or clients are using so you can optimize your load capacity.
Other pallet sizes are:
- 48 inches x 32 inches Euro plastic pallets (fit 39 of these straight into a 53-foot trailer and 38 of them when they are turned)
- 48 inches x 45 inches automotive plastic pallets that meets AIAG specs and works well where Gaylord boxes are used (fit 26 of these straight in a 53-foot dry van and 28 when they are turned)
- 43 inches x 43 inches square plastic pallets or 45 inches x 45 inches square plastic pallets that are popular in the feed industry (fit 28 of these in a 53-footer when loaded straight
Last Thoughts on Pallets and Trailers
When hauling loads, it’s essential to know how many pallets can fit on your van or trailer so you can optimize your load.
Un-optimized loads result in revenue loss, and overweight loads result in delays that you could have avoided (such as being hauled out at the weigh bridge).
Now you know exactly how many trailer pallets you can load on your truck, van, or trailer.