What’s the Right Moving Truck Size for Your Move?

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.

Lastly, don’t wing it! Do some research, talk to a rental rep, and learn from others who have been there and done that—Google reviews and ConsumerAffairs.com are great places to start.

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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:

  1. How many rooms are you moving? How many of these are bedrooms with mattresses?
  2. How many boxes are you moving? (Check out Home Depot’s box calculator to get an accurate estimate.)
  3. How big is your furniture? Do you have any oversized, bulky, or fragile items that may need special treatment?
  4. How far are you moving?
  5. Which truck sizes fall in line with your budget?
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PRO TIP

PRO TIP

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

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
10-ft.12-ft.
Dimensions9’11” x 6’4” x 6’2”12’ x 6’6” x 6’1”
Capacity1 room, studio apartment1–2 rooms, 1-bedroom apartment
Weight limit2,810 lbs.3,100–3,610 lbs.
Interior space402 cu. ft.443–450 cu. ft.
Miles per gallon1212
Companies that offer these sizesu-haul logopenske truck rental logo
budget truck rental logo
Dimensions
Capacity
Weight limit
Interior space
Miles per gallon
Companies that offer these sizes
10-ft. 12-ft.
9’11” x 6’4” x 6’2” 12’ x 6’6” x 6’1”
1 room, studio apartment 1–2 rooms, 1-bedroom apartment
2,810 lbs. 3,100–3,610 lbs.
402 cu. ft. 443–450 cu. ft.
12 12
u-haul logo penske truck rental logo
budget truck rental logo

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.

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DON’T FORGET

DON’T FORGET

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
15-ft.16-ft.17-ft.
Dimensions15' x 7'8" x 7'2"16’ x 7’7” x 6’6”16’9” x 7’8” x 7’2”
Capacity2–3 rooms, 2-bedroom apartment2–3 rooms, 2- to 3- bedroom apartment3-bedroom apartment or condo, 2-bedroom house
Weight limit6,385 lbs.3,400–4,460 lbs.5,930 lbs.
Interior space764 cu. ft.800 cu. ft.865 cu. ft.
Miles per gallon10–126–126–10
Companies that offer these sizesu-haul logopenske truck rental logobudget truck rental logou-haul logo
Dimensions
Capacity
Weight limit
Interior space
Miles per gallon
Companies that offer these sizes
15-ft. 16-ft. 17-ft.
15' x 7'8" x 7'2" 16’ x 7’7” x 6’6” 16’9” x 7’8” x 7’2”
2–3 rooms, 2-bedroom apartment 2–3 rooms, 2- to 3- bedroom apartment 3-bedroom apartment or condo, 2-bedroom house
6,385 lbs. 3,400–4,460 lbs. 5,930 lbs.
764 cu. ft. 800 cu. ft. 865 cu. ft.
10–12 6–12 6–10
u-haul logo penske truck rental logobudget truck rental logo u-haul logo

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
20-ft.22-ft.26-ft.
Dimensions19'6" x 7'8" x 7'2"21’11” x 8’1” x 8’1”25’11” x 8’1” x 8’1”
Capacity2- or 3-bedroom home3- to 4-bedroom home3- to 5-bedroom home
Weight limit5,605 lbs.10,000 lbs.10,000 lbs.
Interior space1,016 cu. ft.1,200 cu. ft.1,700 cu. ft.
Miles per gallon101010
Companies that offer these sizesu-haul logopenske truck rental logou-haul logobudget truck rental logopenske truck rental logo
Dimensions
Capacity
Weight limit
Interior space
Miles per gallon
Companies that offer these sizes
20-ft. 22-ft. 26-ft.
19'6" x 7'8" x 7'2" 21’11” x 8’1” x 8’1” 25’11” x 8’1” x 8’1”
2- or 3-bedroom home 3- to 4-bedroom home 3- to 5-bedroom home
5,605 lbs. 10,000 lbs. 10,000 lbs.
1,016 cu. ft. 1,200 cu. ft. 1,700 cu. ft.
10 10 10
u-haul logo penske truck rental logo u-haul logobudget truck rental logopenske truck rental logo
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PSSST

PSSST

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.

Pickup trucks

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

8-ft.
Truck bed dimensions7'9" x 5'2" x 1'9"
CapacityTwin or full mattress, 3–4 furniture items
Weight limit1,980 lbs.
Miles per gallon19
Companies that offer these sizes*u-haul logobudget truck rental logo
Truck bed dimensions
Capacity
Weight limit
Miles per gallon
Companies that offer these sizes*
8-ft.
7'9" x 5'2" x 1'9"
Twin or full mattress, 3–4 furniture items
1,980 lbs.
19
u-haul logobudget truck rental logo

*Budget offers pickup trucks through its sister car rental company.

Get money

FYI

FYI

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:

About Julia Campbell

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).