Before you choose a trailer, you’ll need to know the maximum weight of cargo and passengers you can safely carry in your SUV, car, or truck. Your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the total combined weight limit, including all passengers, fuel, fluids, and cargo.1
When you go to choose a trailer, you also have to factor in tongue weight (how much force a trailer places on your tow hitch). The tongue weight factors in as part of your cargo, meaning you won’t be able to load the full weight capacity of your vehicle with your belongings.
This additional info will help you figure out how much stuff you can add to your vehicle and how much you’ll need to put in a trailer.
Here’s an example: a 6,000-pound heavy-duty truck with a 7,300-pound GVWR, can carry 1,300 pounds. However, a 200-pound tongue weight would reduce what you could carry in your truck to 1,100 pounds.
If you know the weight of all the belongings you’re moving, you can use this information to determine what size trailer you need to haul everything else beyond that weight limit.
Available in a variety of sizes, cargo trailers are aerodynamic and lightweight to save fuel during your drive.
Plus, cargo trailers are enclosed to fully protect your belongings from weather or road debris, and they allow you to lock everything safely inside.
For towing odd-sized cargo, tools, and landscaping materials, an open-top utility trailer is often the best choice. While you probably wouldn’t want to use one for your Crate & Barrel couch, a utility trailer is great for large or sturdy items like patio furniture, yard tools, and your fancy Traeger grill.
Utility trailers aren’t ideal for long-distance trips because they don’t protect your stuff from damage or theft.
Auto trailers are a solution for relocating your car when you prefer not to drive or ship it. While most companies require you to tow an auto trailer with one of their rental trucks, U-Haul offers tow dollies and car carriers that you can pull behind a personal vehicle.
The best trailer size for your move depends on how much and what kind of stuff you’re hauling. Moving trailers come in a variety of sizes, from a small 4 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer (best for a handful of boxes) to a 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer (ideal for your lawn equipment or ATV).
- 4 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer: Holds up to 1,600 pounds and is great for college students packing up their dorm rooms or anyone moving a few pieces of furniture.
- 5 ft. x 8 ft. cargo trailer: Fits furnishings for a basic studio apartment: a loveseat couch, chairs, a kitchen table, a twin bed, etc.
- 5 ft. x 10 ft. cargo trailer: Holds a small apartment worth of items: a queen-sized bed, a couch, chairs, boxes, electronics, and square dining room tables.
- 6 ft. x 12 ft. cargo trailer: Holds up to 2,500 pounds and several rooms of furniture, including L-shaped couches, pianos, and more bulky items. May hold up to a two-bedroom home if you’re a minimalist.
For homes with a lot of furniture and two to four bedrooms, you’ll need a full moving truck. Find a truck that meets your needs on our Best Moving Truck Rental Companies list.
- 4 ft. x 7 ft. utility trailer: Ideal for yard projects or small in-town relocations.
- 5 ft. x 8 ft. utility trailer: Good for local moves and bigger home improvement projects.
- 5 ft. x 9 ft. utility trailer with ramp: Good for loading and towing ATVs, golf carts, or heavy appliances (thanks to a fold-down ramp).
- 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer: Comes with a low deck and tie-downs that secure large items in transit.
- 6 ft. x 12 ft. utility trailer with ramp: Holds your heaviest and most awkwardly shaped items.
Open utility trailers are not ideal for carrying that Restoration Hardware dining room table that you spent way too much money on. They’re actually designed for quick, in-town moves or items you don’t mind exposing to the elements. Think tools, patio furniture, and grills—not grand pianos and heirloom furniture.