When freight shipping with Less Than Truckload (LTL) it is imperative to know your freight class. The most accurate way to determine that is by calculating its density. But don’t bother dusting off your solar-powered calculator. Instead, fill in the blanks below and watch as our online density calculator instantly determines your freight class for you. Magic? Nah, just FreightCenter.






While our density calculator makes the math simple, these five steps will help you get the most accurate density calculation possible. You’ll be calculating density like a pro in no time!   

  • STEP 1: Carefully measure your shipment after it is packaged, palleted, or crated. You will need to measure the length, width, and height of your cargo. Make sure to include any crates, pallets, or skids in your measurement. If you have multiple pieces (also known as handling units), find the dimension of each one individually.    
  • STEP 2: Multiply the measurements (length x width x height) to find the total cubic inches of your package. If you have more than one package, multiply the length, width, and height of each piece separately and then add your results together.   
  • STEP 3: Divide your shipment’s total cubic inches by 1728 to convert the number to cubic feet.
  • STEP 4: Weigh your freight, including all packing materials. If you have multiple handling units, weigh each piece separately then add the results together to find your shipment’s total weight.  
  • STEP 5: Divide your shipment’s total weight by the number of total cubic feet and the result is the density of your freight shipment.  (It is best to round your results up.)

Why Density is Important to Know When Shipping LTL

Knowing a freight’s density is a key element to finding the most accurate freight class. Freight class is a standardized pricing system for cargo transported by LTL freight shipping. There are two ways to determine fright class – NMFC codes and density.

  • NMFC-based freight class – The Nation Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA), a nonprofit membership organization of motor carriers, uses the National Motor Freight Classification® (NMFC) system to determine freight class. NFMC codes are assigned a freight class based on four characteristics: stow-ability, liability, ease of handling, and density.
  • Density-based freight class – The freight rate of some commodities is based solely on density. Density is used to find a density-based freight class, while NMFC code is used to find NMFC-based freight class. 

The density of an object is the measurement of its compactness or pounds per cubic foot (PCF). The density of your shipment will dictate how much space your freight shipment will require in a truck or shipping container. For example, pillows and bowling balls may weigh the same, but twenty pounds of pillows will take up a lot more room than twenty pounds of bowling balls.

To learn more about density, watch our video below:

With LTL shipping, space is very important because your cargo is being transported along with other freight. When you ship your freight via LTL, you are sharing both the truck and the cost of shipping on that truck, with other shippers - which is why LTL is one of the most economical methods of shipping. While two shipments may weigh the same, the one that requires more space will cost more.  

To find the density of your freight shipment, simply enter your freight’s dimensions and weight into our density calculator. Then, you will be provided with your shipment’s density and recommended freight class. 

Shippers are encouraged to make sure their weights and dimensions are accurate in order to avoid billing adjustments (BA) based on density and class changes. Never guess or estimate dimensions and weights when shipping freight. 

Get started shipping now with a free quote. Have more questions about freight class, freight rates or freight shipping? One of our expert Freight Agents can help you along the way. To speak with one of our agents, call (800) 716-7608.  

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