What is the difference between a lowboy and a stepdeck trailer?

Both lowboy and stepdeck trailers are specialized trailers used to transport oversized or overweight cargo, but they differ in their design and capabilities:

Lowboy Trailer:

  • Design: Characterized by a single, low deck achieved through a double-drop design. This allows them to accommodate tall machinery and equipment that wouldn’t fit on standard trailers.
  • Loading height: The lowest deck height among common trailer types, enabling easier and safer loading and unloading of heavy equipment.
  • Weight capacity: Typically designed to handle heavy loads, often exceeding the capacity of regular trailers, ranging from 40,000 to 80,000 pounds or more.
  • Applications: Primarily used for transporting construction equipment (bulldozers, excavators), agricultural machinery (tractors, combines), industrial machinery (generators, transformers), and oversized cargo (pre-fabricated buildings, wind turbine components).

Stepdeck Trailer:

  • Design: Features a main deck with a slightly higher level at the front. This creates a step-up from the main deck to the front section.
  • Loading height: Offers a lower deck than standard flatbed trailers but not as low as a lowboy. This provides a balance between ground clearance and loading height.
  • Weight capacity: Can handle moderate to heavy loads, with capacities typically ranging from 30,000 to 48,000 pounds.
  • Applications: Commonly used for transporting construction materials (steel beams, pipes), agricultural equipment (tractors with implements), oversized vehicles (buses, trucks), and general cargo requiring easier loading than a standard flatbed.

Here’s a table summarizing the key differences:

FeatureLowboy TrailerStepdeck Trailer
Deck designSingle, low deck (double-drop)Main deck with a step-up front section
Loading heightLowest among common trailersLower than standard flatbed, but higher than lowboy
Weight capacityHigh (40,000 – 80,000+ lbs)Moderate to high (30,000 – 48,000 lbs)
ApplicationsOversized and heavy equipment, machineryConstruction materials, agricultural equipment, oversized vehicles, general cargo

Choosing the right trailer depends on the specific cargo you need to transport:

  • For extremely tall or heavy equipment, a lowboy is the most suitable option due to its lower deck height and higher weight capacity.
  • For taller cargo that still requires easier loading compared to a standard flatbed, a stepdeck trailer offers a good balance between ground clearance and loading convenience.