Is an open top or flat rack container better for oversize loads?

Transporting oversize freight is a delicate and often complex exercise. First off, there are the legal considerations around choosing a transport vehicle that fits weight and size restrictions and is appropriate for the job you need to complete. 

Then, you’ll want to pick a shipping container that is easy to load and unload, and can securely and efficiently transport your freight. The question is, are flat rack containers or open top containers a better choice for shipping large loads?

Here’s a quick breakdown of the features, benefits, and most common uses of each type of container and when you should use each for your business.

What are the key differences between a flat rack container and an open top container?

A flat rack container is a container which is open at the top and on the longer sides of its frame,  with two walls on the smaller sides. These containers can be stacked on top of each other or collapsed when empty to save space when being transported around.

An open top container has four fixed walls, with a door on one end and an open top that can be covered with a tarpaulin or trap door to protect its contents. They are handy for loading freight that needs to be lowered in from above via a crane.

If you’ve read our earlier articles about what flat rack containers are used for, you’ll know that a flat rack is ideal for the secure and efficient transport of bulky, oversize loads that don’t fit into containers with fixed walls.

Freight can be easily loaded from the top and side of the container, secured with lashing rings, and covered with a tarpaulin - so if you’re looking for a highly durable and flexible container to accommodate freight that comes in a range of shapes and sizes, a flat rack could be best for you.

With an open top container, however, you’ll only be able to transport freight that fits within its walls and any applicable height restrictions.

While these containers might not be the most efficient equipment for moving odd-shaped freight, they are ideal for transporting loose material like grain, or fragile items that need more protection from the elements.

What types of flat rack containers are available?

Generally, flat racks are available in 20ft or 40ft sizes. At Rentco, we offer 40ft flat rack containers with either fixed or collapsible walls for short and long-term hire. Our containers have been built to withstand harsh weather conditions and have a high loading capacity of up to 4000kg. 

Renting a flat rack from Rentco means you won’t have to worry about maintaining the equipment yourself; our lease rates include everything from maintenance and storage to repairs, and even access to our 24/7 national breakdown service in the event that you run into mechanical issues on the road.

If you’ve got a transport job coming up and are in need of flat racks or a flat top truck for hire, we’ve got the equipment and expertise to help you source the best solutions for your business. Give our friendly team a call or find your nearest Rentco depot details through our website.