Dry Van Shipping vs. Refrigerated Shipping

The debate between dry van shipping vs refrigerated shipping is highly situational. You can’t say that one is definitely better than the other because it depends on what you’re hauling. This will talk about both and then show which one is better in certain situations.

Reefer trailer

What is a Dry Van Trailer?

A dry van is exactly what it sounds like. This is a trailer that is dry inside and intended on shipping dry goods and items. This is a broad term that describes most semi-trailers that are enclosed and protect the good from the elements.

Since this is one of the most common types of trailers and you’ll likely be using it frequently, consider choosing new dry van trailers for your hauling needs. They will endure many miles and can ship a large cargo.

What is a Reefer Trailer?

A reefer trailer is also enclosed and protects the cargo from the elements, but it’s intended for cold, frozen cargo, such as beverages and food. According to the experts at Hale Trailer, “Dry vans excel in shipping a variety of commercial goods, which is why they’re very popular within the food and beverage industry. The most popular freight items include non-perishable foods and beverages, clothing and textile products, as well as plastic and construction items. “

Reefer trailers have a refrigeration unit that is able to keep the contents cold. This is usually powered by diesel and uses CO2 to cool the trailer, but this depends on the trailer itself.

While this wouldn’t be ideal for cargo that is stable at any temperature, it’s one of the best choices for colder items.

Which is better for transporting refrigerated goods?

This is why the debate between dry van and refrigerated shipping is so situational. If you need to haul cold goods that must remain below a certain temperature, then a reefer trailer is ideal. It will keep the goods cold until you arrive at the destination.

At the same time, this trailer is more expensive than a dry trailer. It also requires more diesel and there’s always the chance that the refrigeration unit will malfunction. That’s why you should always consider the cargo and then choose a trailer based on what you’re transporting.

What to Consider When Buying

Buying a dry van or reefer trailer is very similar. You’ll have to check a few extra things with a reefer trailer, but overall the concept is nearly the same. Since you’re hailing, consider the size and maximum weight first before anything else. You should ensure that all the major components are working well, such as lights, brakes, steering wheel and so on.

Check the trailer structure and make sure it’s good. Also consider any other features you need, like any special gates or other requirements. You only want to get a trailer that works for your needs, not one you have to fight with.

With a reefer trailer, you’ll also want to consider how cold it can get and how long the refrigeration lasts before needing more diesel. You should make sure the refrigeration is easy to monitor and control as well.


There’s no clear winner when it comes to dry van shipping vs refrigerated shipping since it depends on your cargo. At the same time, getting the right trailer is often easy if you know what you’re hauling.


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