What Are the Different Types of Shipping Containers?

Shipping Containers / Written by Tami McDonald

There are many different types of shipping containers available today. Find out what they are and why you should choose one over another.

There are many different types of shipping containers out there and not one.  Shipping containers come in all shapes and sizes.

There are several reasons why people use them for storage. Some use them for commercial purposes, while others use them for personal storage.

Read on and discover seven different types of shipping containers that you can buy today!

Dry Storage Container

Different Types of Shipping Containers


Dry storage containers come in various sizes.  But the most common sizes used are 20 and 40 feet.  A dry storage container made of corten or weathering steel with an airtight seal.

It is also the most common type of shipping container in the industry.  Its purpose is to keep items dry and prevent moisture damage.  In other words, it’s for dry goods only.

This type of shipping container does not come with temperature controls either.  It will not be suitable to use for anything that needs refrigeration.

For example, any perishable type foods that need to be temperature safe.  Also, any type of chemicals that need refrigeration.

These containers are often used by businesses that need to store large amounts of dry goods. They are also used as temporary storage units at construction sites.

But anyone can buy a shipping container and use it for personal storage in their backyard as well!

Flat Rack Container

Different Types of Shipping Containers


Flat rack containers are exactly what it says.  They are flat.  It only has walls or posts.

Think of a box with no roof on top and no side doors.  Why?  It makes it easier to load cargo from the top and/or the sides.

Its purpose is to ship heavy, odd-shaped cargo.  For example, large boats, buses, or construction cranes.

Flat rack containers make it easier to load and unload cargo.  Cargo that does not fit inside a standard container.

Open Top Container

Different Types of Shipping Containers


A common type of dry storage container is an open top container.  These containers are usually made of steel.  Designed to store large amounts of materials.

They are often used by businesses to store raw materials and finished goods.  Also, think of shipping large oversized tires used for heavy construction equipment.

This type of container has no solid roof.  Instead, covered by tarps. This makes it easier to load and unload items such as scrap metal from the “top”.

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But they also have end doors too.  This provides more flexibility to load and unload oversized cargo.

You may be thinking, “What’s the difference between a flat rack container and an open top container?”  After all, they are both “open” on the top.

Good question!

  • Flat racks are better for big machinery and vehicles that could be top-heavy
  • Open tops are better to carry loose cargo in bulk (height restrictions of 7’8” tall)

Open Side Storage Container

Different Types of Shipping Containers


An open side storage container has an extra pair of doors.  Located on the longer side of the container.  This is besides the regular double doors located on one end of the storage container as well.

In essence, that gives you two opening sides instead of one.

The purpose of the extra doors?

  • Wider opening
  • Easy access
  • Retrieve items quicker

It is a more functional container to use for bulky goods.

Refrigerated ISO Containers

Different Types of Shipping Containers


If you are in the market for a refrigerated container get ready to pay more.  Unlike their counterpart, the dry storage container, it cost more money.

Refrigerated containers are also called reefer containers.  I know what you are thinking…don’t go there!

It is a temperature-controlled environment.  If you have a product such as fruit, veggies, dairy, or meat that you need to keep cold then this is the best option for you.

ISO Tanks (International Organization for Standardization Tanks)

Different Types of Shipping Containers


If you are in the business of transporting liquids, water, gas, or powder then an ISO tank is for you.  An ISO tank is steel.

They are very durable but not as strong as their counterparts.  But they are easy to clean.  It is the best solution if you are transporting hazardous or non-hazardous products.

International Organization for Standardization is a stamp of approval.  It means the tank has met its regulated dimensions.

Half Height Containers

Different Types of Shipping Containers


A half height container is “half” the size of a full-height shipping container.  Why would you want a half height container?  Here are two examples of why you would want to buy a half height shipping container.

  1. Transporting and storing very heavy loads
  2. A pool

It would be a good option to buy a half height container for certain goods.  Goods such as pipes, salt, and vehicles.  Its design it to carry smaller heavy loads by rail and sea.

A bonus is that they can stack on top of each other to save space.

Did I say you can use a half height container for a pool?

Think outside the box.

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Not only can you use this shipping container to transport products but you can use it to swim in too.  All it takes is some time and modification to make it happen.


There are many different types of shipping containers.  Uses range from commercial or personal use.  Seven of the most common shipping containers are in this post.

Not only can you appreciate what they are but also what they’re used for.  If you are thinking of buying a shipping container we can help.  Give Used Conex a call at 855-524-0888.

One of our friendly and knowledgeable sales agents will be happy to assist you!

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