What Size Moving Truck Do I Need?

What Size Moving Truck Do I Need?  What Size Moving Container Should I Get?

Those are great questions, we're glad that you’re asking!  Our customers usually contact us in the research phase of their move and more often than not, before they’ve made reservations for their moving truck or moving container.  You can either contact a professional moving company to help determine the size needed or you can use an online truck/container size calculator to estimate the cubic feet and gross weight.  We have a few options for you here;

We believe this size and weight calculator to be the most accurate and it's used by professional moving companies
Universal Truck/Trailer/Container Size Calculator

Here’s an option with an easy to use interface from Penske
Penske Truck Size Estimate Calculator

Uhaul Truck and Tailer Size Estimate Calculators
Uhaul Truck Size Estimate Calculator
Uhaul Trailer Size Estimate Calculator

We have years of experience making estimates over the phone and can accurately determine the correct moving truck or container sizes by asking a series of questions.  As a Do-It-Yourselfer you may also want to go through this step by step process listed below.  We have found that the recommendations used by many of the moving truck rental services and moving container companies are not very accurate in today’s world.  People tend to have a lot more “stuff” than they did in years past and the estimates based on “rooms” or “how many bedrooms” is too vague and can throw a wrench in the moving process and schedule.  

Here are a few questions that may help identify your actual needs

What is the square footage at the loading location? How full is the location based on a percentage, 50%, 100%, or another number?  
The answers to these two questions will indicate a rough square footage to determine the cubic feet needed from your truck or container.

Are there any other places at the location that would add to the square footage estimate?

  • Do you have a storage shed or storage closets?

  • Is there a garage that’s being used as storage?

  • Do you have outdoor items to load? Furniture, grill, bikes, kayaks, etc?

Another important factor to consider "What are the dimensions of your largest item armoire, bed, couch, etc?"
This is critical because there are some items that will not work well in smaller trucks/containers or not at all in some cases. For instance a 90” or larger couch or king size bed with a very thick mattress.

Do you have any items in excess of 300lbs? How many?
You should determine a rough weight estimate of the entire load.  Never exceed the GVW (gross vehicle weight) rating for your rental truck or container.  You’ll also want to keep weight distribution in mind when loading your truck or container as we’ll discuss further below in loading suggestions.

At this point you should have a pretty good idea of the actual cubic footage you’ll need as well as the gross weight.  Use this to determine what size truck you’ll need and how many trips it will take if it’s a local move or the container size if you’re doing a relocation.

Here are some general sizes and cubic footage numbers. These are approximate numbers based on an average percentage of home content.

  • Small moving truck (10-12') - approx 400 cubic feet.

  • Medium moving truck (16-20) - approx 800 cubic feet.

  • Large moving trucks (24-26') - approx 1800 cubic feet.

  • Small containers (ABF/Relo-Cubes/U-Boxes) - approx 300 cubic feet.

  • Large containers (16' PODS/PACK-RAT) - approx 800 cubic feet

For large moves and relocation - a 28’ ABF Trailer can hold just under 2000 cubic. It also has a 9’ vertical clearance which is ideal for oversize items.

These are general assessments and they are based on a professional moving company doing the loading.  Being transparently honest with yourself about how much you have will help make the process a success!

Helpful tips and friendly answers to questions always free! OregonTrailMoving.com 503-922-2225

Moving discount coupons here on the blog page for Uhaul, Penske, Budget, Enterprise, PODS, Pack-Rat, & ABF U-Pack.  




Keep Your Furniture Safe - How To Videos For Blanket & Shrink Wrap

When Full Service or Hybrid Moving is out of budget it’s Do-It-Yourself and according to the numbers it’s probably part of your future!

According to the U.S Census Bureau about 11% of the total population moves every year. In West coast destination cities like San Francisco and Seattle those numbers go up significantly. Here in Portland and in the state of Oregon over 18% of us moved in 2015!  Average residency lengths are around 5 years trending downward in areas like ours with a residency of 2 1/2 years. Current estimates for moves and relocations are down from their peak in 2015 but 2017 had 120-140 people a day moving to Portland from out of town or state and 60,000 total new arrivals to the state of Oregon.

Do-It-Yourself Moving - Prep and Packing Tips 

As a professional mover that enjoys working in this industry, showing up to help a client along their way and completing a successful move is good feeling and has many satisfying benefits (granted it’s not for everyone).  As a “civilian” having to move myself is just as dreadful for me as it is for everyone else!  We’ll show you some examples to prep like a pro and take some of the stress and dings out of your next move. As we’ve discussed in previous posts in the blog that having a plan and a schedule are essential for efficiency and overall success.  

Your non-essential items and fragiles have been carefully wrapped and boxed at this stage.  The boxes have been labeled and the fragiles are well indicated with “FRAGILE” or “TLO” (top load only).  There are some helpful videos on packing dishes and fragile items on our YouTube playlist “Moving Tips - How to Pack Dishes/Fragile items"


Blanket & Shrink Wrap Your Furniture 

If it’s worth moving it’s worth protecting.  Blanket or pad wrapping furniture and appliances is an absolute must if you want your items to arrive at their destination in the same condition they’re leaving in.  It will not only protect your items but it will minimize scuffs dings or dents to walls, doors, banisters, etc at the locations you’re moving out of and in to.  It also allows the items to ride in the truck or shipping container safely and facilitates to maximize the usable cargo space for stacking and packing the load tight.  Another major advantage for DIY’ers is that you can move fine furniture with a moving Dollie when it’s wrapped. You may not have the luxury of a “crew of friends” so doing as much as you can with the Dollie and its wheels is powerful and efficient.  The pad/blankets and shrink wrap protects the wood from the sharp surfaces and allows for one person to do move even large objects and with care, navigate stairs and stairways.

We’ve included some pics from our moves to give you a basic understanding of what it takes to pad/blanket/shrink wrap a piece of furniture. 


There are also some helpful videos on our YouTube playlist showing how professionals do it - “Moving Tips - How to Blanket Wrap Furniture for DIY’ers"


You can obtain all the items you’ll need for this process at your local home center and at the familiar moving truck rental location.  Items you’ll need to do the prep work are: Moving Blankets or Moving Pads, Packing Tape, and Shrink Wrap.  From experience and in the interest of saving time we suggest getting more supplies than you think you’ll be needing and returning un-used items later. 

Helpful tips and friendly answers to questions always free! OregonTrailMoving.com 503-922-2225

Moving discount coupons here on the blog page for Uhaul, Penske, Budget, Enterprise, PODS, Pack-Rat, & ABF U-Pack.



Nick Parlier
Your Do-It-Yourself Move - Making A Plan

DIY & Hybrid Moving Tips

Do-it-yourself moves and Hybrid moving can be easy!  Let us show you how. Follow these simple tips and your Do-It-Yourself moving experience will be a success!


Make a Schedule

Begin the packing process early.  For a full size home you should allow at least 2 weeks to avoid last minute overload.  For a small apartment a week should be enough time.  Start your schedule in reverse order from moving day with realistic goals for each day. Decide how far in advance you can begin packing non - essential items in to boxes. Confirm your reservation with truck rentals a few days before pick up. For  PODS or container moves contact your supplier for delivery time confirmat estimates 48 hours in advance.

Move it, Sell it, Donate it, Toss it!

Your next move is a great opportunity to get rid of things you may no longer need or use.  This will save you money and make your moving experience easier.  A good starting place would be to make 3 areas for your under-used items.  If you have time and space you could select things for garage sale, Ebay, Craigslist, Offer Up, or other marketplaces.  Items selected for donation can go to Goodwill, Salvation Army and many local services even do pick-ups for free.  Last but not least would be the recycle or throw it away option.  Sometimes difficult, often necessary.

Pack and Label

We have some helpful How-To-Videos here on our blog and on our Youtube channel for packing methods that pros use. "If it’s worth moving it’s worth packing the right way"  so take your time and don’t shortcut on the right supplies.  Packing is time consuming and more of it is spent on kitchen items than any other area of your home so start there as soon as your schedule permits.  When you get your supplies make sure you have more boxes and packing supplies than you think you’ll need.  Most truck rental and moving supply centers that sell boxes accept returns for what you don't use.  Never use bags for moving.  If you have bagged items select an appropriate size box and place it inside.  You can load a truck or moving container more efficiently when items are stackable and safely secured.  Label all boxes on 3 sides for larger moves, Color coded dot stickers to identify rooms or destinations can be helpful and time saving.  That may not seem necessary but you’ll be glad you did when you arrive at your destination.

Moving Helpers

Moving day can be easy if you do your homework. You’re going to need moving help from someone.  If you’re going DIY you might consider loading over a 2 day period schedule permitting.  You may have enlisted some friends for help and breaking this up over a couple days may be easier on everyone.  Hybrid moving from professional Labor Only Movers is affordable within even the most modest budgets.  Many moving labor companies in our area have a 2 hour minimum and under $200 for 2 hours is average.  You can ask the movers to “focus on large or heavy items” and you can take care of smaller boxes and items yourself.  This is a common request.  You also might consider adding an extra hour or so to have the loading process off to a good start and have all the essential heavy items properly secured so finishing the job off on your own goes quick and relatively easy.

Moving Discount Coupons

You can save 10-30% by using direct moving discount offers from U-Haul, PODS, Penske, PACK-RAT, Enterprise, ABF U Pack, and more from our links on this page.   We’re always happy to answer questions so please feel free to reach out to us at info@oregontrailmoving.com. If you’re in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest and you would like to schedule a move you can fill out a request on our site or call 503.922.2225. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you along your way!



Moving DISCOUNT Coupons

Do-It-Yourself Moving Tips

Full Service Moving - DIY Moving - Hybrid Moving

There are 3 basic types of residential and commercial moving.  We'll give you an overview to help you determine what makes most sense for your move and your budget.  Do-It-Yourself and Hybrid Moving have been around for a while but more recently they have become the first choice option for consumers on a tight budget as frequent moves for work and family are increasingly frequent in today's fast pace world.

Portland Movers.jpg

Full Service Moving

This is the least labor intensive choice for the consumer.  It's also the most expensive choice and well out of budget for most people.  You can look at a list of the most recognized moving companies, Mayflower, Bekins, Allied, North American, National, and have them do an onsite estimate for free in most cases.  You have the option of completely hands free moving by letting them do the packing and prepping for you.  It will allow you to maintain your full work and social schedule.  Corporate relocation is often the source of funding for this type of move as a coast to coast operation can be well over $50,000 for a 3 bedroom home with packing and insurance.  Total costs of twice that much are not uncommon. A local move with a full service provider for an average home is of course less money but it can still be quite expensive and out of range for many budgets.

DIY or Do-It-Yourself Moving

This is the lowest cost option for moving.  There aren’t many upsides other than low cost.  It's just as described.  You’re going to do it all yourself.  You will decide and arrange for a rental moving truck like U-haul or a shipping container like PODS, ABF U-Pack, or PACK-RAT and coordinate the schedule for the move date.  Another responsibility is to obtain boxes and packing materials as well as the packing of smaller items in to boxes and prepping things for the move like furniture dis-assembly and blanket or shrink wrapping.  The less you have the easier this type of move is.  For a large apartment or small home it’s a lot of work and a considerable amount of time.  You will most likely need at least one other person to assist with larger heavier items.  You may have to add time for repairing damaged items or painting when you’re done.  A visit to a massage therapist or chiropractor may also be appealing after moving day.

Hybrid Moving

Hybrid Moving is a lower cost option to Full Service moving and has been a growing growing trend for a reason, you can save money! Let the professionals do the heavy lifting, you take care of the small stuff.  The amount of work you choose to do can be adjusted to your desires and budget.  You will hire a “Labor Only” moving service to load, unload, and move large or heavy items.  You can have them do the packing of specialty or fragile items.  You may ask the moving service to assist you to determine if renting and driving a truck or renting a moving container is a better choice for you.  


Seeing a PODS container or a U-haul truck in front of a house is an every day occurrence for most of us in Portland and many cities.  Hybrid Moving is a great way to save money on your next move and it’s easier than you might think.  It’s a common statement in moving reviews for consumers that have used this option and you’ll be saying the same thing when you’re done with your move.  Reach out to a local moving company that specializes in servicing Do-It-Yourself and Hybrid Moving customers with questions and ideas about your next move.  Please feel free to contact Oregon Trail Moving for answers to your questions.  We look forward to helping you along your way!  503.922.2225