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Shipping containers are the most common method of safely and securely transporting all types of cargo all around the world. If you’re thinking of hiring or buying one, you might be wondering exactly what you can fit inside a shipping container. Well, this will depend on the cargo itself, as well the size and type of shipping container you use.

In this post, we’ll cover what you might fit inside a shipping container in a general sense. To go deep and specific would likely require writing a book about the subject.

Let’s dive in.

Jump To:
The 20ft Shipping Container
The 40ft Shipping Container
Transporting Or Storing Those Taller items
Other Shipping Container Types
Summary

The 20ft Shipping Container

20ft shipping container

We’ll start off by taking a look at the most commonly used shipping container in the world, the twenty-foot, standard, non-refrigerated container.

First, we’ll check out the internal dimensions:

  • 89 metres long
  • 35 metres wide
  • 36 metres high
  • 33 cubic metres of internal space

Many people who have used a shipping container to move house claim they have been able to fit the entire contents of a regular 3 bedroom home inside a 20ft container. Obviously this will depend on just how much stuff you actually have and how big the items are, but generally speaking, it’s easily doable.

Let’s tick off a few more interesting stats of what fits inside a 20-foot shipping container:

  • About 50,000 bananas (depending on their size)
  • 200 full-sized mattresses
  • 400 flat-screen televisions
  • Around 60 fridges
  • A large car or 2 small cars
  • Over 1000 25kg bags of cement
  • 4000 shoeboxes
  • Almost half a million eggs
  • 9600 wine bottles

You’re starting to get the idea. It’s actually quite amazing what will fit inside one standard 20ft shipping container.

Of course, what you can squeeze into the container also depends largely on the shapes of the items and how well organised your packing of the container is. The use of packing materials, such as blankets and protective sponge, will also need to be factored in.

The 20-foot shipping container is the most popular for good reason. It’s much cheaper to hire and transport than a 40-foot container, and on most occasions, the 20ft container is comfortably roomy enough for most peoples’ requirements.

The 40ft Shipping Container

40ft shipping containers

Naturally, the 40-foot shipping container is twice the size of the standard 20ft container, and it’s the mammoth of the container fleet.

We’ll take a glance at the dimensions:

  • 05 metres long
  • 35 metres wide
  • 36 metres high
  • 66 cubic metres of internal space

A lot of the time a 20 foot shipping container will be more than enough for your needs, but if you have a lot of stuff to store or move, then a forty footer might be what you’ll need, as it’ll be cheaper to transport one 40ft container rather than shipping two 20ft containers.

To keep the overall weight down, quite often these mammoth containers are used to transport lightweight items that take up a lot of room. Some examples might be:

  • Cotton
  • Electronics
  • Bulky furniture items
  • Reams of cardboard
  • Plastic bottles
  • And more…

This is not always the case, but it’s a common option for items that weigh less but still consume quite a bit of space.

If you’re moving house and you’re living in a fully furnished 5 bedroom home, then chances are all your furniture and possessions won’t fit inside a standard 20ft container. The forty footer is perfect for these big removal jobs.

When packing a 40 foot container, you’ll really want to think about it in detail beforehand and plan ahead. This is particularly important if you’re filling it full of furniture and household items but may need to access something in the container before it gets shipped.

Imagine completely filling a 40 foot container, only to discover there’s something inside that you need and you stashed it all the way down the far end. You would then have to unload the entire container to get to it. Not fun.

Organisation is extremely important when packing any container, but even more so when loading up the giant of the container fleet.

What else can you fit inside a 40ft container? Well, for starters, you could double the stats that were mentioned for the 20ft container. Let’s see what else:

  • Large machinery, such as a front end loader or excavator (possibly some disassembly required first)
  • Between 2 and 4 cars (depending on their size)
  • 20 standard-sized pallets

Transporting Or Storing Those Taller Items

Let’s take the scenario of using a shipping container to move house. If you have some furniture items that are extra tall, just a little too high for the standard 20 or 40-foot shipping containers, then you’ll want to go for a high cube container.

The high cube shipping container has roughly one extra foot of headroom to accommodate taller items. Alternatively, you might almost be able to squeeze all your furniture and possessions into a standard 20ft container, but not quite. If you go for the high cube, that may just give you the extra room you need, rather than having to upgrade to the massive 40 footer or hire more than one shipping container.

20ft high cube container

Other Shipping Container Types

Apart from the standard and high cube 20 and 40 foot containers, there are other specialist containers for big or awkward items.

For example, there is the open-top shipping container, which is the perfect solution for tall items that are simply too big even for a high cube container. The other advantage of the open-top container is that things like heavy machinery can be loaded in buy crane. Once the cargo is loaded, the top is covered by a temporary canvas roof.

Flat rack containers are the container of choice for items that are simply too wide to fit in an enclosed container.

The Takeaway

With some forethought and good organisation, you’ll be amazed how much you can fit inside the popular 20ft container. Remember that if you do go for the 40 footer, try and keep the overall weight down.

Shipping containers are the ultimate solution for transporting all manner of goods, for storage, and even for remodelling for other purposes.

Sources:
https://www.mainfreight.com/global/en/basics/freight-basics-shipping-container-specifications.aspx
https://www.icontainers.com/help/what-fits-20-foot-container/
https://www.universal-containers.com/what-can-you-fit-inside-a-20ft-shipping-container/

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