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LTL vs. FTL: Defined & Explained

08.27.2017 | By AJ Todd | 2 min. read

Before you start shopping for freight carriers, you have to identify what type of shipping services you need. Keep reading to learn about the two most common freight load options: LTL and FTL.

LTL Shipments vs. FTL Shipments

Understanding similarities and differences between LTL and FTL shipping will help you determine your shipping needs, effectively compare freight carriers, and lock in a good price.

LTL stands for less than a truckload. With LTL shipments, you don’t have enough freight to fill a truck and only need part of a trailer to transport your goods.

LTL Shipment FAQs

  • Freight weighs between less than 4,000 pounds
  • Goods are packed on pallets or skids
  • Prices vary significantly by carrier
  • Carriers make multiple stops and sometimes transfer loads between trucks
  • A good option if you’re in need of flexibility on dates, pickup locations and drop points

FTL stands for full truckload. With FTL shipments, you commit to filling an entire truck trailer with your freight.

FTL Shipment FAQs

  • Shipments consist of freight from one company that fills an entire trailer
  • Typically weighs more than 15,000 pounds
  • Can be packed using boxes, crates, bags, tubs, pallets, skids, etc.
  • Freight goes straight from origin to destination and is not transferred en-route
  • A good option for fragile or high-risk shipments

Why Use One Option Over the Other One?

The amount of freight you need to get from point A to point B will usually make the decision between LTL and FTL for you. For example, if your freight shipping company doesn’t ship enough freight at one time to need FTL, you’ll ship LTL. However, cost can also be a big deciding factor, as can additional service needs.

As you evaluate freight carriers, consider:

  • Prices, discounts, and incentives – ex; early booking cost savings
  • Guarantees and unique services – ex; fewer transfers for LTL
  • Packing, sorting, or other add-on services – ex; lift gates
  • Reputation, customer service, and damage mitigation – ex; insurance options


Experience the best of both worlds and ship your freight via shared truckload.