How To Pack a Pickup Truck for Moving (10 Easy Steps)

How To Pack a Pickup Truck For Moving

Pickup trucks are among the most popular means of transportation used to haul items while moving to a new place. Just ask anyone with a pickup truck how often people ask to use their truck for a move. Answer? A lot.

If you’ve already prepared all your boxes for moving and now it’s time to load them on the pickup truck, make sure that you read this guide first!

Whether you’re using your truck, a friend’s, or even a rental, here are some of the most valuable tips that you should keep in mind if you want to know how to pack a pickup truck for a move.

So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents

1. Check the Payload Capacity of the Truck

If you’re planning to haul very heavy loads, you might want to start by checking the payload limit of the truck.

This term defines the maximum weight that a pickup truck is designed to handle safely in the pickup truck bed area, which is different from the gross weight limit of the truck.

Of course, if you’re planning to haul a small number of items or lighter boxes, you can skip this step, but it becomes critical as your load gets heavier.

Ideally, you can find the payload limit of the pickup truck in the truck’s manual or by searching online by the model, but you can also calculateOpens in a new tab. it by subtracting the curb weight from the gross vehicle weight rating.

2. Make Sure That All Boxes Are Properly Sealed

Double Strip of Tape on Moving Box

Whether you’ve been packing everything on your own or you’ve had some help, avoid loading the boxes on your truck without making sure that they’re properly sealed.

Unsealed boxes can be problematic on long rides, and since pickup trucks don’t always have a top shell, small bumps may accidentally open a box, which can damage its content.

To avoid that, simply keep packing tape on you while loading, check every box for proper sealing before loading it on the truck, and seal any package that needs further fortification.

3. Distribute the Load for Easier Truck Handling

While packing items on a truck, you have to keep the actual drive in mind. Always distribute the weight of your items so that the heavier boxes are placed close to the cabin, which is the center of gravity of the truck.

Putting too much weight towards the tailgate of the truck won’t only affect the truck’s handling on the road, but it also makes the haul unstable and prone to shifting around in the truck bed.

The best way to properly load boxes is to always start the loading with your heaviest items. After that, place medium to medium-heavy items on either side of the truck, leaving the lightest items in the center or the far end of the truck bed.

4. Load Thin Flat Items on the Sides

A lot of people think that flat items, such as picture frames can be laid flat in the center of the truck bed. However, this can end up severely damaging the frame. The same goes for mirrors and other flat items.

If you want to pack these items safely, always keep them facing the sides of the truck bed (the truck bed rails).

This prevents them from wobbling around, especially if you cover your cargo, but more about that in the following sections.

5. Organize Your Cargo to Eliminate Wobble Space

If you still have some wiggle room in the truck bed after loading your boxes, consider filling this space by putting your smaller items in between the larger ones, especially if they’re all inside geometrical boxes.

This eliminates the wobbling effect while going through sharp corners, reducing the chance of damaging your packages.

6. Cover the Truck Bed with a Cargo Tarp

If your pickup truck bed is exposed, make sure that you cover all your cargo with a large cover, such as cargo tarps.

These tarps come with a lot of advantages that make them an excellent investment, such as:

●       Protects the cargo from the elements of weather, such as rain, wind, and sunlight

●       Keeps your cargo enclosed, preventing them from falling off

●       Improves the aerodynamics of your truck, saving your gas mileage on long trips.

7. Adjust the Air Pressure of the Truck Tires

Check Tire Air Pressure

Most vehicles adjust tire pressure between 32 to 35 psi. However, the heavier load may require you to slightly add air pressure, which is something often overlooked by movers on pickup trucks.

Ideally, you should ramp up the internal pressure of the truck tires to above 40 to 44 psi, which improves the vehicle’s handling and saves your gas mileage too.

8. Protect Your Cargo Against Theft

In addition to protecting your cargo against damage, you should also consider cargo safety against theft, especially for long trips that include parking for long hours in rest stops. Here are some tips to protect your items:

●       Lock the most valuable items inside the cabin

●       Park in well-lit areas that are visible by others

●       Cover all your items with the tarp to make them invisible and uninteresting to thieves

9. Plan Your Route Based on Safety Rather Than Distance

Plan your route ahead and set your priority based on the smoothness of the ride, and therefore, the safety of your cargo.

Even if other routes may get you from point A to point B much quicker, consider taking routes that have fewer sharp turns, road bumps, hard stops, etc.

10. Invest in Ratchet Straps and/or Bungee Cords

Ratchet Straps

Lastly, after loading all your items on the truck, make sure that you secure them all using quality ratchet straps, bungee cords, and/or tie down anchors and tie down straps.

There are lots of different options to secure everything in the cargo bed. My advice is to pick the straps that you’re most comfortable using.

In addition to strapping the whole cargo, consider tying down all the large items exclusively.

Basically, when in doubt – strap it down. I would much rather have things too secure as opposed to having a box go flying out of my truck as I’m driving down the highway.

Final Thoughts

This wraps it up for today’s guide that shows you how to pack a pickup truck for moving. As you can see, when it comes to small to medium-scale transportation, nothing beats a well-prepared pickup truck.

Make sure that you follow these tips and tricks in order to guarantee the safety of both the truck and your cargo!

If you’re considering pickup truck rental as an option to move your items, you should expect it to cost you around $100 for an all-day rental, depending on the rates in your area and the model of the truck.

While you’re price checking, you may want to double-check on the cost of a small moving truck or cargo van too. Sometimes you can get one of these just as cheap for local moves as a pickup truck.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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