Shipper Guide: Less Than Truckload vs. Full Truckload

Jose Benitez
October 11, 2023

When shipping your freight, the number of options available can be confusing. It’s important to understand the differences between Full Truckload (FTL) shipping and Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping because they are two of the most commonly used transportation options in North America. To choose, you should consider the time sensitivity, size, and budget for your shipment. Here are the main differences between FTL and LTL shipments to help you decide which shipping method works best for you.

You should consider choosing between LTL & FTL over 4 categories: your shipment's budget, size, time sensitivity, and handling.


Since LTL shipments are smaller and leave room for other shipments, they are cheaper because you will only pay for the space that you use. FTL shipments use most of the entire truck and cost more because you are paying for more space in the truck. The decision between choosing an FTL or LTL is crucial because if you choose the wrong option, you may end up paying for space that you aren’t even using.


The first thing you must take into consideration when shipping freight is the size. The names Full Truckload and Less Than Truckload are self-explanatory and mean exactly what they say. LTL shipments are smaller shipments typically ranging from 100 to 5,000 pounds. These smaller shipments will not fill an entire truck, leaving space for other small shipments. On the other hand, FTL shipments fill most to all of an entire truck and tend to be much larger, often weighing 20,000 pounds or more. Shipments that weigh between approximately 5,000 and 10,000 pounds can sometimes move either LTL or FTL. When such shipments move LTL, they are often referred to as “volume LTL” shipments; and when they move FTL, they are often referred to as “partial TL” shipments.

Time Sensitivity

If you are pressed on time and need to have something shipped quickly, FTL may be the way to go. Since LTL shipments involve more than just your shipment, they often require multiple stops and transfers before they reach the final destination. Typically, FTL shipments pick up and deliver on the same truck leading to a quicker delivery time.

Freight Handling

Along with how quickly you need a shipment to go out, you must also consider how delicate or high-risk the shipment is. With FTL shipping, your shipment will stay on the same truck and will not be transferred anywhere else. This creates less risk of damaged or missing items when shipping FTL. On the other hand, LTL shipments may switch trucks or be transferred multiple times before delivery, increasing the risk of damaged or missing items.

Choosing the correct shipping method is crucial for saving time and money for your company. If you have LTL or FTL shipping needs, then look no further than Protrade Logistics! Contact us today.

Let's Get to Work!

Get in touch today to see how we can help!
Protrade Logistics is ready to deliver, so you can too.