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What Is a Partial Load and How Does It Compare to Other Truckload Shipping Options?

Many shippers only use either a full truck load or a less than truckload when shipping out their goods. These types of shipments can drive up costs that aren’t as desirable as the customer would like. That is where a partial load shines.

Partial load and less than truckload (LTL) may sound similar, but they both have their differences and benefits. Do you know about the differences between an LTL and a partial load? Are you looking for more information on when to use either one?

Understanding the many great benefits that come with partial load shipping will give you the competitive edge you need to save more money while getting your goods where they need to go. This brief article will go over what a partial load is and who you can contact for more information on partial truck loads today!

What Is a Partial Load

A partial load is a type of freight mode for larger shipments that may not require the full use of a full truckload trailer. Partial loads fall between less than truckload (LTL) and full truck load.

These loads involve shipments over 5,000 pounds or with six or more pallets. When hauling a partial truckload, you do not need a freight class to secure a rate. Partial truck loads involve less handling and results in much faster transit times.

Partial Load vs. Full Load

One of the most significant differences between a partial load and a full load, as mentioned earlier, is that you don’t need a freight class to secure a rate. Partial shipments eliminate the potential for additional charges for re-classing and any minimum density fees.

Carriers who haul partial truckloads rarely stop at distribution terminals. Fewer stops mean that your shipment is handled less and gets to its destination a lot faster than usual—minimal handling of the shipment results in fewer claims. 

A typical less than truckload shipment is less than 12 linear feet or contains about 1 to 6 pallets. A typical full truckload shipment is roughly 42,000 pounds or contains between 6 to 30 pallets. A standard partial truckload shipment is about 8,000 to 27,500 pounds or includes 6 to 18 pallets. 

Advantages of a Partial Truckload

Partial load benefits not only are fantastic for carriers, but it also benefits customers. A partial load is an excellent option for carriers who want a cost-effective solution that falls right in between less than truckload and full truckload.

One Truck

As stated earlier, partial load carriers make fewer stops at distribution terminals, allowing the carrier to move faster from point to point.

If you own a small fleet of trucks and a solo owner-operator, you can appreciate that these partial freight loads reduce your deadhead miles. If needed, you have the opportunity to pick up smaller loads on your return trip to make more money. 

More Customers

You have the ability to combine partial loads from multiple clients into one of your trailer loads. To execute this method correctly, you will need a well-managed shipping lane.

When using this method correctly, you create an opportunity to earn more money than you would with a full truckload. You would make more money on the same route because you are working for multiple different shipping clients. 

This method is more attractive to shippers because you can offer lower rates than full truck loads could. You also can make more money each mile driven because you can fill your trailer with several different loads. 

Co-Loading Shipment

Co-loading shipments are shipments where multiple companies collaborate to ship their orders on a shared vehicle. Sharing the space on one truck helps to cut down on costs on the supplier’s end.

These companies can collaborate on who will pay for what when it comes to the fare. Co-loading is great for companies who want to cut down on their shipping costs. 

In order to safely co-load, the freight origins and destinations must be in close proximity, and the pickup and delivery schedules must align with one another. The products shipped also need to be compatible with one another.

For example, chemical goods cannot go with food goods. All of the goods shipped must have the exact temperature requirements.

Load to Ride Shipping 

Load to ride refers to specific orders loaded onto a truck and go straight to a particular destination. Load to ride shipping can include orders from several different companies like co-loading does, but it does not necessarily need to.

Drivers who utilize load to ride tend to handle less freight than any traditional less than loads. These drivers run on scheduled pickups and designated delivery times.

This mode is beneficial for companies on-site consolidation and held to strict “Must Arrive by Dates.” Load to ride is useful for freight that only requires a short distance to travel. 

When to Choose Partial Load

If you have a low-density freight, but it takes up a lot of space, a partial load may be a better option for you instead of LTL.

A partial load is also a great option if you have concerns about any possible freight damage. Partial truckload allows for less handling, which decreases the odds of any cargo damage during transit. 

partial load

Is Partial Load Best for You?

If your shipment is over 5,000 pounds or six pallets, partial load shipping is a more cost-efficient option for you. It is best to choose partial load over LTL in this scenario because LTL is based on freight class.

You have the opportunity to utilize per pallet pricing. LTL freight class will drive up the costs on shipments that take up a large amount of space but have low density. Partial load is also fantastic to fill up any unused truck space. 


As mentioned above, the density of each shipping affects your shipment’s freight class, which also affects the shipping rate. With that said, the less dense a load is, the more expensive it is to ship.

For example, you can have seven totes of apples take up a small space on your load, but they weigh a lot.

At the same time, 25 sheets of stainless steel guttering will take up a lot of space but won’t weigh as much as those apples. So in this scenario, it would cost less to ship the stainless steel guttering as a partial load. 

Great density candidates for partial loads:

  • Shipments of more than six but less than 20 pallets
  • Large light items
  • Machinery and industrial components
  • Freight under 38,000 pounds but over 5,000 pounds
  • Shipments that need express delivery
  • Loads that need point to point delivery

Do I Need Exact Dimensions?

Yes, for your partial load, you need the exact dimensions for each shipment. To ensure that the freight will fit on the trailer, you will need precise measurements.

Successful Partial Load Tips

If you are looking to maximize moving partial loads faster, there are a few tips that you will want to consider.

It is best to find partial loads that deliver near one another. If you can’t find partial loads that deliver near one another, you can look for partial loads with two destinations on the same route. 

Plan Your Trips Carefully

If you are looking to make a decent amount of money moving partial loads, you must plan out your trips very carefully. The most challenging part of planning your trips is finding multiple partial loads that work with one another.

Another obstacle you will need to overcome is making sure that the delivery times work with one another.

Certain owner-operators and small fleets may have a more challenging time finding flexibility on delivery times, so in this case, partial loads can become tricky. If you have excellent planning and time management skills, you will be able to be successful. 

Stay In Your Lane

You can improve your success with partial loads by focusing on one or two lanes that work best for you and your routes. Finding a roundtrip lane that works best for you and your schedule will minimize any cargo damage or delayed deliveries. 

Save With Partial Load Shipments

Now that you know the difference between partial and full loads, it is time to put that knowledge to use. Partial loads are beneficial to the driver and any business looking to cut costs on their shipping fees.

If you are looking for more information on partial loads, contact us now. Our team specializes in innovative supply chain solutions that will work best for you and your needs!

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