One of the ‘greatest’ things about owning a pickup is inevitably being asked by all sorts of characters to help them move something large and awkward. Knowing how to accomplish the art of loading and unloading a pickup truck is even considered a rite-of-passage in some circles, and if you’re crafty there may be some gas money and a BBQ in it for you if you oblige your truckless friends and family.
In this post, we’ll divulge our best practices for strategizing the placement of goods, the gear you’ll need to secure a large load, and break down the pros and cons to taking smaller loads and more trips.
What You’ll Need
Before you begin tossing things into the bed of your truck you’re going to need a few things to make sure you can safely and confidently transport your packed up goods.
- Ratchet straps – These are inexpensive straps that use a ratchet to torque down and secure loads, motorcycles, refrigerators, boxes, and awkward shaped objects.
- Moving blankets – Self explanatory, these tough blankets can be substituted for an old quilt or a few towels, but they help to protect more fragile items from getting scratched or damaged en route.
- Bungee cords – Along the same lines as ratchet straps, but more forgiving and good to use on more delicate items.
- Ramps – Unless you’re an exceptionally strong human being, or have the help of a few muscled friends, lifting a large toolbox, fridge/freezer, dresser of drawers, etc into a 3.5 foot high truck bed is a good way to injure yourself. Ramps can be made from a couple of pieces of 2×8 lumber to keep things inexpensive.
- A good truck – Most importantly, you’ll need a truck that’s capable of hauling the amount of weight you have to load. Don’t try to load 3000 pounds into your S10. Check the payload capacity of your truck by checking the owner’s manual, or the label commonly found on the inside of the drivers door for your truck’s weight-carrying capabilities.
Quality, not Quantity
Everyone likes to get a job done quickly and efficiently, but taking your time when moving with a pickup truck is key to making sure that your stuff survives the trip. If you pack too big of a load, you run the risk of losing, or damaging your stuff en route, but too small a trip and you’ll be making runs back-and-forth all day long. The key is to balance the quality of your loading job with an appropriate quantity of trips.
If we were going to make a staunch recommendation, it’d be to pack smaller, smarter loads and make more trips. Better safe than sorry.
Think Tetris. A well strategized packing job will not only allow you to take more things on each run, but you’ll be able to feel good about placement and the security of your loading job.
Load the heaviest items like refrigerators, freezers, chests, dressers, etc near the cab and secure them upright with ratchet straps. Loading these large heavy items near the cab helps to evenly distribute weight and allows your truck’s handling and to remain relatively intact – it also protects against damage to suspension and your transmission. Try to distribute weight evenly from the left and right sides as well.
Pack large items like tabletops, pictures, and mirrors on the sides of the truck bed and use the moving blankets to wrap any glass of breakable items. In between these items is where you’ll pack the majority of your boxes. Heavier boxes should be placed on the bottom with lighter and less breakable boxes – containing clothes, for example – can be packed on top.
You want to ensure that you pack and secure things tightly and snug together so movement during the drive is limited. Secure all of your boxes with a moving blanket or a tarp over top and ratchet strap or bungee down the cover. If you have something hanging out of the back of your truck, tying a flag on the extended end will help other drivers to notice the overhanging object on the tailgate.
Types of Moves
When it comes to the size of your move, and what you’re moving – use your best judgement to decide whether or not you could benefit from renting a larger moving truck in the first place. Pickup’s are great for moving a plethora of things, and for specific types of moves:
- Small moving jobs – If you have a friend who needs a hand picking up an ATV, or moving a canoe, dresser, or a mattress, a pickup is the perfect vehicle for the job.
- Local moves – Likewise, pickups are good for smaller moving jobs, so moving some things across town or within an hour from home is a great excuse to save your money and refrain from renting that big moving truck.
- College Moving – Pickup’s are great for moving your children into college, university – or even up to a summer camp for a couple of weeks. The chances are they will have a few larger objects, but overall very few possessions. Think mini-fridge, twin mattress, a couple of suitcases, a bicycle, etc.