At a glance
We get it: it’s easy to overpay for a too-large truck for fear of running out of room.
If you’re on the fence between two sizes, play it safe and go for the larger size. It’s better to have unused space you can cushion than to have to leave your prized telescope behind—after all, parting with your things will cost you time, money, and (ahem) emotional stress.
If the moving truck rental company in your area doesn’t have your preferred size, you can always mix and match sizes (like pair the largest and smallest sizes together if you’re worried about room) or hitch a trailer to the back of your rental.
IN BETWEEN SIZES?
IN BETWEEN SIZES?
If you decide to size up to a larger truck, make sure you have moving blankets to wedge between items to prevent shifting. If you go down a size, consider adding a trailer to your rental.
The whole picture
If you’ve moved only a handful of times—or if this is your first rodeo—you may not know which truck size is right for your move. It’s even more complicated if the company you’re renting from advertises only small, medium, and large sizes (we’re looking at you, Budget) that don’t match your exact load size.
So how do you pick the right truck size for your move? Start by figuring out the total number of cubic feet you’ll fill and the number of rooms you’re packing up.
An online moving calculator can tell you how much cubic space (a.k.a. volume) you’ll need based on how many beds, boxes, or, I don’t know, unicycles you’re moving. Plus, most rental truck companies advertise how many rooms each truck size can hold.
It’s also helpful to ask yourself the right questions:
- How many rooms are you moving? How many of these are bedrooms with mattresses?
- How many boxes are you moving? (Check out Home Depot’s box calculator to get an accurate estimate.)
- How big is your furniture? Do you have any oversized, bulky, or fragile items that may need special treatment?
- How far are you moving?
- Which truck sizes fall in line with your budget?
Book a truck size that has 10–15% more cubic space than your estimated load to ensure you have enough room. (Don’t worry, every good rental truck company will spell out truck volume for you).
Once you’ve nailed down how much stuff you’re moving, there are two truck types we’d recommend:
- Pickup trucks
- Box trucks
Of course, there are other options out there, like cargo vans and moving trailers you can hitch to your car or truck. But we’ll focus on pickups and box trucks since those are the best for most DIY moves.
Box trucks are the most common moving trucks—you know, the ones you often see parked in front of your apartment building. They’re more expensive than some other truck types, but they’re still far cheaper than doing a container-style move or going full service.
If you’re moving more than what fits in a 1-bedroom apartment, you’ll probably want a box truck. In our opinion, a box truck isn’t worth the price for smaller loads—chances are you’ll be able to find a smaller cargo van better suited for your move.
Rental truck companies usually offer at least two box truck sizes (based on the length of the box itself). Here’s the breakdown of which truck sizes are generally considered small, medium, and large.
Small box truck sizes
Do you struggle to find space for your massive book collection in your studio apartment? We feel you. Your Dickens collection deserves more breathing space.
If you’re moving a 1-bedroom apartment or smaller, the 10- and 12-foot sizes are where you’ll want to start. Queen, full, and twin mattresses fit in these trucks, but most king-size mattresses, sadly, are a no-go.
Small box truck sizes are where most customers overestimate their needs. Most of the time, if you think you can make it work with one size, you’ll be able to.
Basically, if you pack up your truck the right way, you’ll most likely be able to make do with the size your instincts told you to go with.
To do so, start with the big stuff. Load your couches, beds, and other large pieces of furniture into the truck first—then pile in smaller pieces of furniture along with your boxes.
Small box truck size comparison
Medium box truck sizes
Mid-size box trucks (and larger) are best for long-distance moves and—you guessed it—larger loads. These trucks are also more durable and better suited to long road trips, and there’s a whole lot more space for your things.
Medium box trucks are best for two-bedroom apartments, condos, and one- to two-bedroom small homes. A key difference between small and medium box trucks is that king mattresses fit inside the latter.
If you rent a medium-size truck from U-Haul (15 ft. or 17 ft.), it’ll come with a mom’s attic, which provides extra storage space above the driving cab for mattresses or boxes.
Unless you’re towing your vehicle behind your rental truck or toting a family of five, you’ll probably have room in your backseat or trunk to haul things (should you need more space).
Medium moving truck size comparison
Large box truck sizes
Do you own a California king mattress? Look no further than 20-plus-foot moving trucks. These large trucks can generally hold items from two- to three-bedroom apartments all the way up to three- to five-bedroom houses. Plus, these trucks can handle the weight of washers and dryers.
Each large U-Haul truck also comes with a mom’s attic, so don’t worry: you don’t need to throw away your comic book collection. You’ve got extra space to stash them.
Large moving truck size comparison
Enterprise is another rental truck company worth looking into. The company has 14 vehicle sizes—but it does only local moves. Read our full review for more details on what Enterprise has to offer.
If you’re moving a single room’s worth of stuff—or if you have a few bulky pieces of furniture—a pickup truck is a cheap and easy alternative to a full-service move or a larger truck rental.
It makes sense to use a pickup truck if you’re transporting a couple chairs and a table or if you’re moving into a dorm room or small studio apartment.
Plus, if you’re working on home improvement projects, pickups are great for transporting tools, yard debris, and anything else you don’t want dirtying up your backseat.
Pickup truck size comparison
|Truck bed dimensions||7'9" x 5'2" x 1'9"|
|Capacity||Twin or full mattress, 3–4 furniture items|
|Weight limit||1,980 lbs.|
|Miles per gallon||19|
|Companies that offer these sizes*|
*Budget offers pickup trucks through its sister car rental company.
The better you organize your things into boxes, the fewer moving boxes you’ll need. Luckily, we have a whole review on how to pack efficiently, as well as a how-to on using styrofoam, packing peanuts, newspaper, and bubble wrap.
Still can’t find your size?
If you’re between truck sizes, consider going with the smaller option and adding a trailer to your rental for more space—especially if you’re moving awkward or bulky items. For example, lawnmowers aren’t allowed inside a rental truck anyway.
(Check out our Moving Companies That Offer Trailer Rentals piece for more deets.)
If you still need a bigger rental truck, consider doing a full-service move or a container-style move. Rental trucks are especially good for smaller, local moves (and let’s be real, for cheaper rates), but if you’re moving a mansion or from one coast to another, you’ll likely need something bigger.
Rental Truck Companies We Like
We dug deep into rental truck options in our Best Moving Truck Rental Companies list, but if you’re looking for something specific, here are a few of our favorites: