What Size Dump Trailer Should I Get?
Dump Trailers have become increasingly popular over the past decade for both contractors and DIY projects. These versatile pieces of equipment can haul thousands of pounds of material or machinery, and the hydraulic tilting bed makes unloading a breeze. So, if you are planing to buy a dump trailer or need to rent one for a project, here are a few things to consider when selecting the right size for you.
How Will You Use It?
A common mistake when buying a trailer is only thinking of the main reason you need it. Dump trailers are so handy you need to consider all of its uses so you are not stuck with something too small. Picking up a load of top soil or mulch in the spring, demo work, tree/landscape equipment, taking the Side-By-Side up north, renting it to your cousin to pick up patio pavers, the list is endless.
If you plan to rent your trailer out, see our rental tips below
Length and Width
Dump trailers are measured by the size of the box, ranging from 8 to 20 feet long and 5 to 9 feet wide. The tongue and wheels are not part of the typical measurements, so if you need to get the trailer into a tight space be sure to ask for the full dimensions.
Trailers over 8 ft wide will typically be a “Deck Over” design, meaning the box of the trailer sits up over the wheels. While the extra space is nice, this does raise the box from the ground considerably higher which makes loading over the sides difficult and driving a piece of equipment in/out quite scary. If you plan to use the trailer for debris hauling or delivering aggregates, the wider trailer is a benefit.
If you plan to haul trash/debris, mulch, or dirt you should consider the volume of the trailer (5, 10, 15 yards) If you plan to use the trailer to move equipment you should compare the trailer interior dimensions to that of your machine(s). Don’t go for the least expensive trailer and end up making multiple trips or overloading.
You’ve selected the volume of trailer you need, now you need to make sure the numbers match up. Trailers often get disrespected in this category, they are made for working so load them up and strap it down (False). Overloading your trailer can damage the axles, blow out tires, strain the hinges and hydraulics, and make for a dangerous driving experience. Finding the correct weight rating may mean dual or triple axles, or going up a box size. It might cost more up front but using your trailer within its limits will increase its life and reduce repair bills.
A fun fact: A cubic foot of dirt weighs between 75-100 pounds!
More important than getting the right size trailer, is to know your vehicle can handle the weight of it. Without knowing what you drive I can tell you your truck will get a trailer rolling, stopping it is what you should be worried about. The weight of the trailer and its contents should never exceed the vehicles towing capacity number. Most dump trailers come with electronic brakes and a 7 pin wire, make sure your vehicle is equipped with a towing package.
There are 2 hitch styles that coordinate with weight ratings and towing.
- Bumper Pull 2 5/16″ or Pintle Hitch – Standard and most common set up for the tow vehicle. Trailers up to 16′ long.
- Goose Neck – Designed for trucks 3/4 ton or larger. Greatly increases the weight ratings and trailer volume.
Bells and Whistles
There are a few bonuses to look for in a trailer as well. Although they are made for tough work, there are a few bells and whistles that might be important to you.
- Tie Down Rings inside the box
- Roll Up Tarp kit (great for hauling loose debris or mulch)
- Loading Ramps
- Single, Dual, or Scissor style lift
- Electronic Tongue Jack (for quick hitching and un-hitching)
These trailers are tough and a very useful item to have in you inventory, but as trailers go they are expensive. As a peer-to-peer equipment rental service, we have seen these trailers purchased as investments that average between $140 per day, which also comes as a savings to the renter. These are the typical features of the most popular rental units:
- Bumper Pull with 2 5/16″ coupler
- 14′ and 16′ Length
- Ramps, Tarp Kit, Tie Down Rings
- Set clear boundaries of what you don’t want in the trailer (i.e. No Paints, Hazardous Waste, Do Not Exceed X lbs, etc)
- Make sure they have a spare tire and the ability to change so you don’t have to
- Give a quick demonstration of the functions
- Take a few before and after pictures
- Be prepared for dents and scratches. This is a rugged item and chances are it wont come back perfect.