Shipper Zone

Everything You Need to Know about Conestoga Trailers & Shipping

February 12, 2023

What is a Conestoga trailer in trucking?


The simplest Conestoga definition is a large, heavy-duty flatbed trailer that provides security, protection, and versatility of loading and unloading. Conestogas are described as “Curtainside” trailers, meaning they have a retractable tarping system. These trailers have a large height, width, and length capacity, and the curtain spans the length of the deck and has a weight capacity of up to 44,000 lbs.

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The tarping system is best known for having a few unique factors:

  1. It is one of the only protective shipping methods that allow for side and top-loading. The tarping can retract fully for these loading and unloading requirements.
  2. The curtain on a Conestoga protects the goods from potential damage from the elements or road debris during transit.
  3. The tarping system can hide what is being shipped if necessary for security reasons.

All Conestoga freight trailers have at least one thing in common: their tarping system. This tarping is used to cover the freight during transit and helpfully retracts to make loading and unload more convenient. It’s made even more versatile by coming in a few different shapes and sizes.

  • The most popular Conestoga trailer is the flatbed Conestoga, generally used to ship open deck commodities and cargo that are similar to the traditional flatbed trailer but larger. A Conestoga flatbed comes in two length options: 48 ft and 53 ft.
  • Step-deck Conestogas are most often used to transport goods and products like CNC machinery, helicopters, and numerous other large freight that require protection from the elements and road debris during transit. 
  • Double drop Conestogas are generally used to transport commodities like machinery and equipment that weigh less than 36,000 lbs and are above 9 ft 8in at their tallest point.

Each of these has its advantages and services, great for fitting to every unique shipment. These specialized trailers should not be overlooked for many shipments. A conestoga trailer’s maximum freight weight is 42,000 to 45,000 pounds so keep that in mind when considering using this type of trailer. 

What is the difference between a Conestoga and a curtain van?

Conestoga Trailer

Conestoga trailers and curtain vans are both specialized types of trailers commonly used in freight hauling and shipping. While they look similar at first glance, there are several key differences between these two trailer types that make each more suitable for certain applications. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between a Conestoga trailer and a curtain van and explain the advantages of each when it comes to shipping goods.

A curtain van, though classified as a flatbed, might more closely resemble a dry van. The tautliner is a flatbed with a ceiling, front wall, and rear-doors, but has open side walls that allow side access for forklifts and such. The curtains then slide along these open sides to provide an enclosed trailer. This differs from the Conestoga in that its frame does not move, limiting access for top-loading, and making loading and unloading a little more complicated, but still very versatile.

Why use a Conestoga trailer?

Conestoga Retracting

Countless shippers have felt the benefits that come from utilizing a Conestoga to move freight. And, as they save money, meet their deadlines and find their product in good condition following a successful transit, their commitment to these trailers only increases. 

These shippers understand the advantages of moving freight within a Conestoga’s tarped confines and it’s time you did too. 

The three biggest ways Conestogas make their presence felt are:

  1. Decreased risk for damage
  2. Protection from the elements
  3. Efficient side loading and unloading

Even though these trailers are great for moving many kinds of freight, they simply won’t work for others. This specificity tends to result in a finer number of businesses capable of employing this specialized equipment type. 

The top three disadvantages of Conestoga Trailers are:

  1. Limited weight capacity
  2. Limited dimensional capacity
  3. The cost of using a Conestoga

Ultimately, the decision of whether this trailer is used for your shipment is up to you. 

Now that you understand how Conestoga trailers are uniquely valuable for the businesses that use them as well as what some advantages and disadvantages of using them are, you’re ready to make decisions for your freight.

Why Choose VeriTread?

excavator on trailer logo

VeriTread moves thousands of (freight type) loads every year and can quickly generate a reliable estimate on the go. Our extensive specs and dimensions database of 60,000+ items, ensures you spend less time researching and more time putting your equipment to work. The VeriTread Shipper quote process is the simplest way to receive competitive quotes from vetted transport providers. Follow these easy steps and you will receive a quote in under one minute:


Select Ready To Ship from the Freight Options Page

Enter a Manufacturer & Model

Verify or Edit Your Machine Dimensions

Enter Pickup & Drop Off Locations

Your Quote is Ready!


We believe our suite of innovative decision tools empower our customers to make smarter and more informed transportation decisions, reducing overall uncertainty, and saving you time and money. If you have questions contact us at (800) 880-0468 or (863) 226-0903 and let our team of experts help you with your transport needs.

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