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What is an Open Top Container? Your complete guide [20′ & 40′]


An open top container is perfect for your out-of-gauge cargo needs. Read this blog to find out all about the benefits and uses of this container type. Plus, learn how to find open top containers at the best price on Container xChange.

Open top containers are special shipping containers that come without a fixed roof. They’re designed for the transport of tall, oddly-shaped or extra-large cargo. Thanks to the open top, a lot of industries are able to transport tricky cargo hassle free.

If this container type sounds perfect for your shipping needs, your first problem is out of the way. Next on the list? As open tops are rarer in the market, you might be wondering where to find them from reliable suppliers at the best prices.

Browse open top containers in various sizes by simply entering your location, the container type and the condition you’d prefer. You’ll get a list of offers that fit your budget in no time at all. So go ahead and try it out today.

What is an Open Top container?

Open top containers are similar to standard dry containers but come without a fixed roof. This container type is ideal for cargo that’s large, bulky or can’t be loaded through standard container doors. So goods can be loaded from the top using cranes or other heavy-duty lifting equipment. Additionally, you can get open top containers with doors on both ends as well as the open top.

How is cargo kept safe and secure during shipping?

In order to protect goods from wind and rain, a durable tarpaulin can be placed over the open top during shipping. The cover and doors can also be locked and sealed at customs to keep shipments from being tampered with or damaged.

As the tarpaulin is more tricky to lock than doors, it’s usually fitted with clamps that can only be unlocked with a special device. Additionally, open top containers are monitored throughout the shipping process in order to prevent theft and vandalism.

Due to the open top, oddly-shaped and extra-height cargo is able to protrude safely from the container if needs be, whilst still being covered by the tarpaulin. While open tops can be stacked if cargo is horizontal, this is not possible if cargo protrudes. In these cases, the open tops are usually kept separate to prevent damage. Cargo is then secured using lashing rings to keep it from shifting or sliding during shipping.

Capacity of an open top container

Open top containers come in two main sizes: 20ft and 40ft. Choosing the correct size for your cargo will depend on the dimensions and weight of your shipments. It’s important to calculate this before making any decisions on which container size to purchase.

The 20ft open top container has a capacity of 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft, and the 40ft has a capacity of 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft. We’ll get into more detail on the dimensions of each size later on in this piece.

Common uses of open top containers

As we mentioned above, open top containers are ideal for cargo that exceeds the height or width restrictions of standard containers, as well as goods that are too big to be loaded through standard container doors.

If you’re moving the following types of goods, consider using open top containers:

  • Large/oddly-shaped machinery
  • Pipes
  • Long steel bars
  • Spools of wire
  • Scrap material
  • Bulk coal
  • Trees
  • Construction materials
  • Glass slabs
  • Wood logs or timbre

20ft open top container dimensions

The 20ft open top container is one of the most commonly used container sizes. It’s lightweight and perfect for smaller shipments of bulky or out-of-gauge cargo. Let’s take a look at the dimensions of the 20ft open top container now.

Measure 20ft open top container
External length 6.058m / 19.8ft
External width 2.438m / 7.9ft
External height 2.591m / 8.5ft
Internal length 5.89m / 19.4ft
Internal width 2.35m / 7.8ft
Internal height 2.35m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 2,260kg / 5,982 lbs
Payload capacity 28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs
Cubic capacity 32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft

40ft open top container size

While we’re at it, let’s take a quick look at the dimensions and specifications of the 40ft open top container too. If you’ve got larger shipments of bulky cargo, this size is ideal.

Measure 40ft open top container
External length 12.192m / 40ft
External width 2.438m / 7.9ft
External height 2.591m / 8.5ft
Internal length 12.03m / 39.5ft
Internal width 2.4m / 7.9ft
Internal height 2.34m / 7.8ft
Tare weight 3,980kg / 8,774 lbs
Payload capacity 26,500kg / 58,422 lbs
Cubic capacity 66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft

How much does an open top shipping container cost?

Now that you know all about the uses and dimensions of open top containers, we’re sure you’re curious about the prices too. It’s important to note that the cost of shipping containers fluctuates constantly and depend on factors such as:

  • Container type
  • Container condition (Brand new, cargo-worthy, WWT, As-Is)
  • Location
  • Current supply and demand of the container type
  • Container size

Check out how much 20ft and 40ft open top containers cost in various locations around the world now.

Location 20ft open top 40ft open top
USA US $3,244 US $7,116
China US $2,765 US $5,124
India US $5,142 No data
Europe US $3,033 US $5,688

Source: xChange Container

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