How Many Pallets Fit on a 53 Foot Trailer?

May 6th, 2022

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A highly adaptable trailer can transport goods ranging from household items and hospitality products to a wide range of food and beverage items. Every day, thousands of goods on pallets are shipped on dry van trailers; and, when packed right, moving freight can be highly cost-effective.

Getting the most out of your transportation expenses, no matter how frequently you ship, comes down to planning. Once you find out how many pallets are being shipped the more secure you can be in your transport methods. Planning out which kind of vehicles you’ll need and budgeting for them is nearly impossible without knowing the load size. Knowing how many pallets in a truck load can be transported is critical to the success of your supply chain and business.

Let’s discuss the 53 foot trailer pallet loading patterns, how it works, and how you can maximize your shipments.

What are the Dimensions of a Typical 53 Foot Trailer?

Graphic of a 53 foot trailer. showing the typical dimensions of an average trailer.

Even though these trailers come in a variety of sizes, the 53-foot trailer is by far the most popular to use. The width of these trailers is fairly standardized, but the length is worth understanding so you are in government compliance and are aware of shipping costs per load.

Since this is an enclosed trailer type, let’s keep in mind the interior dimensional capacities for pallet configuration purposes:

  • Width: A 53-foot trailer’s maximum width capacity for cargo ranges from 98 to 100 inches, with 100 inches being the most common.
  • Length: A 53-foot trailer’s maximum load length for cargo is 53 feet (636 inches).
  • Height: A 53-foot trailer’s maximum height capacity for cargo ranges from 108 to 110 inches, with 108 inches being the most typical.
  • Weight: A 53-foot trailer’s maximum cargo weight for cargo ranges from 42,000 to 45,000 pounds, depending on the trailer and how many pallets in a truck load.

Any product that exceeds these dimensions cannot be transported in any 53 foot trailer pallet loading patterns because it is an enclosed trailer. However, knowing these figures is important since they help determine the pallet configuration and how many pallets fit into a truck.

What are the Dimensions of a Typical Pallet?

To save you the math troubles, a 53’ long trailer can generally take 26 standard 42”x48” pallets. A skillful shipper can fit 30 40”x48” in a pallet load.  Pallets are 5.5” tall on average – even though they can be custom built and the dimensions can vary.

How Much Do Pallets Weigh?

Loading pallets on a trailer takes skill and planning. Not just the dimensions matter, but the weight must be evenly distributed as well. At the largest in dimension, 48”x48,” a brand new pallet ready to support up to 2500 lbs. Pallet load capacity is influenced by a number of factors, and it’s critical to select pallets that can support the weight of the items you’re transporting.

Of course, the pallet you’re in need of will differ from industry to industry, depending on what you’re shipping. However, the dimension of the pallets, including the weight of your cargo and pallets, will determine what your 53 ft trailer pallet loading diagram will look like.

How the Weight of the Pallets Effects the Overall Weight Limit

Maximizing your trailer space for maximum profit per shipment should be one of your overall delivery goals; knowing the weight of your pallets will let you know how many pallets can fit in a 53 foot trailer. If you overlook this important step, you could lose money by not efficiently packing your trailer.

It’s also important to note that each state differs in protocol and weight laws, so fleets should be cautious when scheduling shipping arrangements. Depending on the total weight, you can understand how many pallets fit into a truck without exceeding the trailer’s limit. As we discussed, a typical sized pallet can hold up to 2500 lb; however, there is capacity to load 4500 lbs onto a pallet load. You must be careful when loading pallets so the weight distribution is even, not exceeding the DOT weight limit. This is necessary for the stability of the trailer as well as to stay in compliance with DOT when being checked as inspection stations.

If you need your load to support a heftier load, consider investing in custom- built pallets for a proper pallet configuration that insures the trailer’s balance.

Distributed Weight

According to commercial vehicle laws, the combined weight of a semi-tractor and trailer, as well as the weight of its load, cannot exceed 80,000 pounds. Although this appears to be a lot of weight, remember 53 foot trailers typically weigh around 33,000 to 36,000 pounds each, providing you with 44,000 to 47,000 pounds to work with.

Remember the trailer’s rear axles – you certainly don’t want to impede the truck’s ability to move. There are even government standards for each trailer type regarding weight restrictions. However, don’t anticipate to move as many pallets with heavy freight on pallets as you would products with no spacing limitation. This is why knowing your freight and the pattern layout you need to use is good to note ahead of time to respect your delivery expenses. 

53 Foot Trailer Loading Patterns

With demand for goods increasing in the past couple of years, shippers and trucking companies have devised strategies for maximizing available trailer space by loading pallets in a variety of ways to overcome the trucking industry’s current influx in demand. How many pallets will fit on a 53 foot trailer will depend on the pallet configuration, as well as the weight of the pallet load.

To move your freight properly takes loading pallets on a trailer in a specific pattern. Let’s look at each pallet configuration to determine what’s best for your shipment.


Graphic showing what a straight pallet loading pattern looks like, and the benefit and drawbacks of it are.

You’ll use the straight pattern when loading all of your products that ship on normal sized pallets. This is the most frequent method of optimizing trailer space. You directly load freight into the trailer, leaving enough area to secure the goods.

The benefit of straight pattern loading is a quick load time verses all other techniques. The drawbacks are potential movement during transit and not efficiently using all the trailer space.


Graphic showing what a turned pallet loading pattern looks like, and the benefit and drawbacks of it are.

The turned pattern you’ll find works best for non-standard-sized pallets. By loading them in a setting where the longest side length-wise allows for the most space to be utilized, potentially getting more goods loaded for delivery.

The advantage of turning the pallets in this pattern will offer little shifting keeping goods secure. The only potential downfall is making sure the pallets that are being used can be handled from each side in a safe manner.


Graphic showing what a pinwheel pallet loading pattern looks like, and the benefit and drawbacks of it are.

How many pallets fit in a 53 foot trailer will likely depend on whether you use the pinwheeled pattern. This is the pattern that you can fit the most pallets, six more than with the straight pattern. Width and length-wise, you can take advantage of the space in a trailer from all directions. Also, the interlocking of the freight with this pattern increases stability for transit. However, if you are short on time or have an express delivery, you may not have the time to use this type of layout as it is time-consuming.

How Should I Maximize the Space in My 53 Foot Trailer?

The total number of pallets that can be loaded into a trailer varies depending on the size of the pallets. Because trailers transport such a diverse range of items, the length and width of pallets used may vary. If your pallets are 48”x40,” and your trailer is 53 feet long, you should be able to load 26 pallets in a straight pattern across the floor of a trailer.

This isn’t unrealistic because maximizing your shipping costs is critical to your business’s success, and sending remaining pallets won’t be budget-conscious. The pinwheeling or turned pattern will allow you to store 28-30 pallets in total, providing you some extra room versus the straight pattern.

Before each shipment, have your 53 ft trailer pallet loading diagram ready to go so you can keep up with expenses and test yourself on how efficient you are for your clients as well as with your fleet. It will all build upon on what’s need for successful delivery with an good use of resources.

Ship Goods with Confidence Using Hale Trailer

In the trucking industry, as a shipper, laying your product well for transport is what will set you up for the ideal delivery. You can feel more secure in your fleet security when you lay the pallets in the most secure pattern. The quality of your shipping methods will speak for your organization. Get it right every time by planning your pattern diagram ahead so there’s no need for guesstimates when loading pallets on a trailer.

Our group is dedicated to making ourselves leaders in the trucking industry. We can help you get your pallets organized for a seamless delivery for your clients today. We have a large selection of trailers ready for the road that can be purchased or rented. To learn more about how we can assist you, browse our collection online or visit one of our locations.

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