Conestoga trailers: main types & pros and cons of each

When it comes to transporting goods, choosing the right trailer is essential. Among the various options, conestoga trailers have gained popularity due to their unique design and advantages. In this article, we'll explore what conestoga trailers are, compare them to flatbed and dry van trailers, discuss the different types of conestoga trailers, and weigh the pros and cons of using a conestoga trailer for your transportation needs.

What is a conestoga trailer?

A conestoga trailer is a type of semi-trailer that combines the features of a flatbed trailer with a rolling tarp system. Unlike traditional flatbeds or dry van trailers, conestoga trailers provide a flexible and efficient solution for loading and unloading cargo while offering protection from the elements. The rolling tarp system, consisting of retractable curtains on the sides and a tarp on top, can be easily opened and closed, allowing for convenient access to the cargo.

Conestoga vs. flatbed vs. dry van

Before diving into the specifics of conestoga trailers, it's important to understand how they compare to flatbed and dry van trailers. Flatbed trailers are open platforms without sides or roofs, making them ideal for transporting oversized or irregularly shaped cargo. On the other hand, dry van trailers are fully enclosed, providing protection from weather conditions and security for the cargo. Conestoga trailers offer the best of both worlds, combining the versatility of a flatbed with the added protection and convenience of a rolling tarp system.

Types of conestoga trailers

Conestoga flatbed: The conestoga flatbed trailer is the most common type. It features a flatbed platform with the rolling tarp system mounted on top. This design allows for easy loading and unloading from the sides and rear of the trailer, making it suitable for a wide range of cargo types.

Step deck conestoga: The step deck conestoga trailer, also known as a drop deck conestoga, has a lower deck height towards the front, allowing for the transportation of taller cargo. This type of conestoga trailer is particularly useful when hauling machinery, construction equipment, or other tall and heavy loads.

Double drop conestoga: The double drop conestoga trailer, also called a lowboy conestoga, features two drop sections, providing even more vertical space for taller cargo. This type of conestoga trailer is commonly used for transporting oversized equipment, such as large machinery, industrial components, or wind turbine parts.

Pros and cons of a conestoga


Freight protection: One of the main advantages of using a conestoga trailer is the enhanced protection it offers. The rolling tarp system shields the cargo from adverse weather conditions, preventing damage from rain, snow, or sunlight exposure.

Efficient loading and unloading: Conestoga trailers provide easy access to the cargo from the sides and rear, simplifying the loading and unloading process. The rolling tarp system can be effortlessly opened or closed, saving time and effort compared to traditional tarping methods. 

Versatility: With the ability to load from the sides and rear, conestoga trailers can accommodate a variety of cargo types, including oversized or irregularly shaped items. This versatility makes them suitable for a wide range of industries and transportation needs. 

Improved safety: The rolling tarp system eliminates the need for drivers to climb on top of the trailer to secure or uncover the cargo, reducing the risk of falls or injuries. This feature enhances safety for both the driver and the cargo.


Cost: Conestoga trailers tend to be more expensive than traditional flatbed or dry van trailers due to the additional equipment and technology involved in the rolling tarp system. However, the benefits they offer may outweigh the initial investment for many businesses.

Maintenance: The rolling tarp system requires regular maintenance to ensure proper functionality. Repairs or replacements of damaged or worn-out parts can add to the overall maintenance costs.

Height limitations: While conestoga trailers provide flexibility for loading taller cargo, there are still height limitations to consider. Extremely tall or oversized loads may require specialized trailers or permits for transportation.

The bottom line

In conclusion, conestoga trailers offer a unique and efficient solution for transporting various types of cargo. With their rolling tarp system, they combine the advantages of both flatbed and dry van trailers, providing protection, convenience, and versatility. While conestoga trailers may come at a higher cost and require regular maintenance, their benefits make them a valuable choice for businesses looking to optimize their freight transportation.

If you're considering a conestoga trailer for your transportation needs, take into account factors such as the size and pricing options available. Additionally, it's beneficial to read conestoga trailer reviews from reliable sources to gain insights into the experiences of other users. By choosing the right conestoga trailer and utilizing its efficiency, you can enhance your freight protection and streamline your logistics operations. Looking to streamline your business even further? Get started with Rose Rocket, the #1 rated TMS today. See a demo below!

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