Our Top Recommendations for Moving Equipment

Julia Campbell
Jun 05, 2019
Icon Time To Read7 min read

It’s safe to say the majority of us can’t lift a 200-pound couch on our own (if you can, you may be the Hulk). Whether you’ve moved yourself a handful of times or are taking on your first DIY move, certain equipment is essential to your day going off without a hitch—especially if you can’t corral your friends to help.

Some moving equipment is worth renting, while some pieces are affordable enough to buy and keep around the house. (Plus, some can be used for other purposes after your move is said and done.)

From appliance dollies to shoulder straps, we break down how to use each type of moving equipment—and whether you should rent or buy.

Top 9 moving equipment choices

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Before you move

Looking for a rental truck or moving container? See which companies we dub the best in the biz on our Best Rental Truck Companies list and Best Moving Containers list.

The best moving equipment to rent

It makes more sense to rent big, pricey items that you'll only use once—especially if you don’t have the garage space to store them after your move. We found the best rental equipment to help you save some cash.

And if you move often or want to invest in a dolly or blankets for future use, we’ve got you covered with the best buying options too.


Most professional movers use tow dollies to haul everything from heavy furniture to stacked boxes from your home to your truck and back. (And if not, they’re staffed with people with superhuman strength.)

The pros know that a dolly can spare their backs from the stress of repeated lifting and cut down the time spent carrying items long distances—and the same goes for your DIY move.

If you think spending seven hours on a Saturday packing and loading your truck might throw your back out, it’s worth getting a dolly (especially since, ahem, it could also cut your move down to just three or four hours).

We recommend renting a tow dolly over buying, as dollies are generally too pricey to purchase for just one or two uses. U-Haul is the best company for dolly rentals since it lets you rent equipment à la carte at one of its main locations (call your local U-Haul for more deets). If you want a dolly to keep, check out Home Depot’s lineup.

Utility dolly

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
RentU-Haul utility dolly$7–$10 flat fee
BuyMilwaukee hand truck$80

*Current as of 5/14/19

A utility dolly (a.k.a. a hand truck) is used to wheel multiple boxes. Instead of carrying each item from your living room to your front door to your moving truck, you can pile two or more boxes onto a utility dolly and get several trips done in one.

Not to worry, apartment dwellers—utility dollies can go up and down stairs. We’re not promising it’ll be completely effortless to steer over stairs, but it’s still going to be a lot easier than trying to haul it all yourself. If you live on an upper floor, navigate your dolly with caution and make sure you have hands on deck in case you need help controlling it.

Before you move

Shrink wrap your dresser to prevent its drawers from sliding out while you’re using your furniture dolly or moving straps.

Furniture dolly

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
RentU-Haul furniture dolly$10–$12 flat fee
BuyMilwaukee 4-wheel wood dolly$23

*Current as of 5/14/19

Furniture dollies are designed to move, well, furniture. Bookshelves, armoires, hope chests—you name it, the furniture dolly does it. Because it’s meant for some of your heaviest home goods, the furniture dolly can handle more weight than a utility dolly.

Unlike a utility dolly, which you tilt backward to maneuver, a furniture dolly allows you to set anything from your bookshelves to your trophy case holders flat on a padded, rollable platform.

You’ll definitely want at least two sets of hands on a furniture dolly—they tend to have a mind of their own and can be difficult to maneuver alone.

Appliance dolly

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
RentU-Haul appliance dolly$10–$12 flat fee
BuyHarper Trucks appliance hand truck$218

*Current as of 5/14/19

Just as its name suggests, an appliance dolly is designed to move dishwashers, fridges, washers, and dryers.

Like the furniture dolly, you’ll want some help navigating it once it’s loaded. Luckily, each dolly comes with a strap that wraps around your appliance, making it easier to move.

Heads up: appliance dollies are pricey. We’ve seen some anywhere from $130 to $500. (That’s why we recommend renting over buying.)

Pro tip

If you’re moving your fridge, begin defrosting it a full 24 hours before your move. And stop buying food one week out (i.e., give yourself a pass to eat Chipotle multiple days in a row).

Moving blankets

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
RentU-Haul furniture pads$5 (pack of 6)
BuySure-Max quilted furniture pads$60 (pack of 12)

*Current as of 5/14/19

Moving blankets (a.k.a. moving pads) help protect furniture from getting dented or chipped while you’re hauling your load out the door. They also protect your stairs, doors, and walls from the same thing.

When shopping for moving blankets, it’s easy to go with the cheapest option, but you get what you pay for.

We recommend quilted blankets with a woven cotton and polyester blend because they’re the most durable. We also suggest renting moving blankets to save some dough, especially if you don’t think you’ll move again for a while. U-Haul’s blankets aren’t quilted, but keep in mind that if you rent, you may not get to choose the highest-quality blankets.

The good news: if you end up buying moving blankets, you can stow them in your trunk for emergencies—like drying your Rottweiler after he jumps in the river (even though you specifically told him not to).

The best moving equipment to buy

There are some pieces of moving equipment you’ll have to buy. (Who wants to use frayed, weathered rope to tie their mattress to their car roof anyway? Not us!)

Here’s a breakdown of the things we recommend buying—plus the best places to do so.

Moving straps

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
Shoulder Dolly moving straps$35
Forearm Forklift moving straps$25

*Current as of 5/14/19

Like tow dollies, moving straps give you more leverage when lifting heavy objects. Instead of wheels, you and your lifting partner wrap the moving straps around your bodies (either your forearms or shoulders) and lift whatever your heart desires (up to 600 pounds, that is).

You can use these babies to move anything from mattresses and dressers to appliances. Plus, unlike dollies that can scratch your hardwood floors, moving straps keep your furniture off the ground.

Of course, using moving straps can be more physically tiring than using a dolly, but avoiding the stress of bumping a dolly down a flight of stairs may be worth the physical labor. You can even pair the two—use your straps to carry heavy items part of the way and then lift them onto a furniture dolly for the rest of the journey.

Bonus: if you’re into feng shui and rearrange furniture often, you’ll get regular use out of your straps.

Feeling overwhelmed?

We’ve got you. Check out Move.org’s tricks of the trade for DIY moves in our How to Move Furniture Easily guide.

Ropes and tie-downs

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
SecureLine paracord$8
U-Haul tie-down rope$3
Home Depot ratchet tie-down strap$33
U-Haul ratchet straps$25

*Current as of 5/14/19

Ratchet straps

Ratchet straps bind boxes, furniture, luggage, appliances, and even vehicles together. And they’re not just for moving—you can use your straps to secure gear on top of your car on your next camping trip too.

Ratchet straps are stronger, more dependable, and more secure than bungee cords, rope ties, or other tie-down methods. Look for ones with polyester webbing—they last longer than nylon straps.

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Fun fact

If you're moving an electric wheelchair, motorcycle, golf cart, or kayak, use ratchet straps to secure and stabilize it inside your truck or on a trailer.


Tie-downs are basically glorified ropes that help prevent furniture from shifting in the back of a moving or pickup truck. Most rental trucks have hooks inside that you can tie rope to. And if your move takes you on the freeway, you can use tie-downs to secure your mattress to the roof of your car or the bed of your pickup.

Nylon rope is affordable, and you can get it at most hardware stores. Our vote is for ¼-inch nylon rope—it’s the strongest and most dependable width for moving, and it gets the best reviews.

Avoid twine and braided rope like a giant pothole. These materials are weaker and have a rep for breaking during transit.

Pro tip

Take a cue from the Boy Scouts—always be prepared with at least 100 feet of rope in case you need to double knot your ties.

Corner protectors

Product name
Estimated price
Where to get it
Foam corner protectors$8
U-Haul TV/art edge protector$6

*Current as of 5/14/19

You don’t want the corner of your smart TV busting a hole in the wall as you maneuver it down your stairs—and we’d bet your landlord doesn’t either. Corner protectors can save both the pieces of furniture you’re moving and your home.

There are two different types of corner protectors you can use on your next move:

  1. Foam: cushions electronics inside moving boxes
  2. Cardboard: protects frames, artwork, mirrors, and anything else with sharp corners
Save money & DIY

Make cardboard corner protectors by taking apart old or unused boxes. Fold the cardboard around the corners of your frame, tape it shut, wrap in packing paper, and voila!

Our final thoughts

DIY moves are completely doable—if you have the right moving equipment. A tow dolly or forearm strap can cut down your move time by hours and lessen the weight of what you have to haul. Literally.

Not to worry: you’ll still get your steps in between your home and your truck, but with the right equipment you can avoid post-move soreness or having to call in professional help.

Here’s a refresher of what you should rent and what you should buy:

Moving equipment to rent

U-Haul is our top pick when it comes to renting moving equipment and supplies because it lets you rent à la carte—even if you aren’t using one of their trucks or trailers. Home Depot is a great option if you’re buying dollies and blankets (just keep in mind that it’ll cost you more upfront to invest in these items).

Moving equipment to buy

If you’re buying these smaller items, you can’t go wrong with Amazon, Walmart, or Lowe’s. Most hardware stores sell this equipment too.

Don’t forget to buy supplies! Use our Ultimate List of Moving Supplies for an Easy Move, and read our article on Where to Buy Quality Moving Boxes.

Julia Campbell
Written by
Julia Campbell
Julia Campbell is a full-time writer who knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to planning a hassle-free move. Having moved seven times in the past five years, she draws from her own experience and industry expertise to help you avoid her biggest mistakes (like that time she thought she could get away with packing her dishes without wrapping them first).