Crate, Pallet, or Parcel?

Sometimes it's hard to know how to ship a particular item. We've got the ultimate guide on how to tell when to ship what.

Shipping Large Goods

crate and pallet for freight

When the item you need shipped or transported is too large to take to the post office or your local parcel company, freight is seen as a more economical approach. There are two sectors of freight trucking: less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload. Less-than-truckload shipping involves transporting smaller freight that doesn’t take up a whole truck.

parcel shipping

Shipping Small Packages

To qualify for parcel shipping (and otherwise dodge the wrath of oversize fees), a parcel needs to fit within the restrictions of whichever carrier you’ve chosen to ship with. Maximum measurements differ per carrier, but it is generally understood that a parcel package should weigh no more than 150 pounds, which provides us with a good benchmark.

measuring dimensions

Are You Shipping Freight or Parcel?

  • Is your shipment over 150 pounds?

  • Is your shipment more than 108 inches in length?

  • Is your shipment more than 165 inches in both length and girth combined?

To calculate girth:
1)Measure the width of the package, multiply this number by two.
2)Measure the height of the package, multiply this number by two.
3)Add these two numbers together. This is your girth.
4)Now, add your length + girth to see if the total is under 165 inches

If you answered yes to all those questions, congrats!
You’re shipping freight!

If you answered no to all those questions, congrats!
You’re shipping parcel!

Why Freightcenter?

One and Done

By using FreightCenter, you’re only one parcel quote or freight quote away from getting your shipment picked up and whisked away by the carrier of your choice. Contact us today and give us the low down on what you’re shipping. We take care of the hard part. That’s right, it’s a one and done type of deal.

Several Quotes, One Platform

Gone are the days of accessing a variety of rates through a variety of websites. We do the comparing for you, all you have to do is decide which quote is right for you. Easily access the information you need to make your decision – all in one place.

How to Package Freight

You never know the journey that your freight will endure while it’s in transit. That’s why you should package your shipment thoroughly so that it’s prepared for any bump in the road, including snowstorms or rainstorms that may cause items in the trailer to shift.

crate for freight


It’s more protective than a pallet, as long as you stuff the crate with materials so the item does not move around. Use packing peanuts or stuffed up newspaper for this.



If you have several items or boxes to ship, you can stack them all on one pallet and shrink wrap the entire pallet to ensure the boxes are securely fastened to the pallet. Avoid placing freight beyond the edge of the pallet.

freight box


While this option is not the most secure, it does add a bit of protection. Be sure to fill the box with packing peanuts and wrap your item in bubble wrap for maximum protection.

barrel for freight

Barrel or Drums

A good option for liquids or hazardous materials.

If you’re choosing to not package your freight in any way, we encourage you to do so at your own risk as many carriers will not even accept an unpackaged shipment.

How to Measure Freight

Here comes the tricky part (but it doesn’t have to be). Some carriers go by weight, and some carriers go by something called density weight. The difference between the two is that density weight takes other dimensions into account.

For Example…

50 pounds of rocks and 50 pounds of feathers both weigh 50 pounds – right? But, 50 pounds of rocks take up much less space, and are much denser than 50 pounds of feathers.

The denser something is, the less likely it is to get damaged in transit.

The less likely it is to get damaged during transit, the lower the freight class.

The lower the freight class, the less expensive it is to ship.
When measuring your freight shipment, be sure to inquire whether the carrier you chose goes by weight or density weight. This will make all the difference.

full truckload shipping

Once you start to gather dimensions, be sure to include all pallets, shipping materials, crates, etc., in your dimension measurements. Every inch and pound counts. You’ll need to measure your length, width, height, and weight. Keep in mind, the scale you use to track your weight loss progress may not be the most accurate tool of measurement for your freight shipment. Stick to professional scales only, please!

box for freight

How to Package Parcel

A good test to ensure your parcel is packaged securely is to make sure you would feel comfortable dropping it off the kitchen table. Think it would survive the fall? Then, you’ve probably done a thorough job securing it.

6 quick, easy steps to packaging parcel:

1.Find a box that is big enough for both your item and a sufficient amount of packing materials.
2.Wrap your item in bubble wrap
3.Place the bubble wrapped item in the box
4.Fill the box with packing peanuts
5.Seal the box with heavy duty tape

How to Measure Parcel

sizes for freight

irregular objects for freight

Measuring parcel is nothing more than 30 seconds of 4th grade math. It’s easy stuff.

All you need to know is that your parcel must weigh less than 150 pounds, be less than 108 inches in length, and measure less than 165 inches in dimension (we’ll get to that in a second).

How to calculate parcel dimension:

Parcel dimension = Length + Girth Combined

1.Measure the length, width, and height of your parcel (in inches).
Example: 40 in (length), 30 in (width), 20 in (height)
2.Add together the dimensions of the two smallest measurements (typically the width and height). Multiply the answer by two. This is your girth measurement.
Example: 30 in (width) + 20 in (height) = 50 in
50 in x 2 = 100 in (girth)
3.Take the measurement of the length and add it to the girth.
Example: 40 in (length) + 100 in (girth) = 140 in (combined length and girth)

Modes of Transportation

There are many modes of transportation for freight, all which cater to a different need you may have. Some methods are more suitable for a budget, while others are more suitable for a time-sensitive shipment.

Road: otherwise known as LTL shipping. This is an inexpensive and readily available option for both residential shipping and small businesses.
Rail: a cost effective option that is easily accessible and not typically affected by most weather conditions. This mode is mostly used for large and heavy loads.
Ocean: a cheap and simple alternative to road shipping if it is logistically possible. Shippers should keep in mind that ocean transportation is time consuming and not for time sensitive shipments.
Air: a pricey but fast option if you need to accommodate a deadline. Delays are common due to weather conditions playing a large role in productivity.

Although you as a shipper have many modes of transportation to choose from, the choice sometimes is already made for you. If you’re only shipping from Florida to North Carolina, it wouldn’t make sense to ship by ocean or air, but if you’re shipping to Hawaii, you would have to ship by ocean or air at one point.

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