Open Trailers vs. Enclosed Trailers: Pros and Cons

March 31, 2021 /
6x12 utility trailer
blackout package on an enclosed trailer

Open utility trailers and enclosed cargo trailers are each incredibly useful tools in their own right. These trailers are relied on by everyone from construction crews to homeowners to get the desired cargo wherever it needs to be. So how do you decide which is right for you? 

Today our trailer pros are breaking down everything you need to know about cargo vs utility trailers in the matchup of the century. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each to help you decide which trailer best suits your needs.

Benefits of Open Utility Trailers

Utility trailers are so-named for their extreme versatility. The open design means you can haul large and odd-shaped pieces of cargo with relative ease. Without walls and a roof, a utility trailer is generally lighter than its same-sized enclosed trailer equivalent. This means that more tow vehicles will be able to handle a utility trailer, giving you more choices. Because of their size, utility trailers are also easier to maneuver and you have completely open sight lines at all times so you know what’s around you. 

Most smaller utility trailers can be loaded by hand although a jack does make the job a lot easier. Utility trailers also afford the ability to access cargo from all sides with the ramp down. This can simply make it easier for loading and unloading by not having to go up and down the ramp every time. With rails all around the trailer and with several built-in anchor points, utility trailers give you plenty of options for tie straps and other cargo-securing methods. 

The open design also makes for an easier access to wiring and structural components. This can make maintenance and upgrades a lot easier with a utility trailer. All in all, utility trailers are an excellent choice for cargo that’s being transported around the city or on quick trips.

Drawbacks of Utility Trailers

The downside of a utility trailer is also its greatest benefit, it’s open. This openness means your cargo will be subjected to the elements. This may not be as big an issue with a full complement of landscaping equipment that can take getting rained on, but for other items like furniture or bedding, this can be really inconvenient. 

There’s also a limited number of ways you can secure your cargo beyond tie straps. While generally secure from falling off the trailer while underway, this only provides limited protection from theft. Utility trailers also don’t usually have the same payload capacity as their enclosed trailer equivalents. As well, if a utility trailer doesn’t come preinstalled with a floor, you’ll be limited in how much weight the trailer can hold. 

Advantages of Enclosed Trailers

Enclosed trailers are like a mobile storage unit on wheels. You have a thick aluminum skin, framing, walls, roof, and a floor all encapsulating your cargo. This makes for a safe and secure means for getting what you need from A to B. 

With Renown’s trailers coming standard with things like Thermacool® roof liners, the advantage of an enclosed trailer are many including: 

  • More Secure: Locking doors and ramps means your cargo is safer from theft. With expensive cargo like a prized racing vehicle, you really want as much protection as you can get from the elements and those with less-than-savory moral inclinations. Enclosed cargo trailers tend to have higher payload capacities than utility trailers, giving your more wiggle room for heavier loads. 
  • Easier to Customize: Customization options are also more plentiful. You can increase the thickness of the aluminum skin, add ladder racks up top, add storage cabinets within the trailer, or any one of a hundred other options. These options make it a lot easier to outfit an enclosed trailer just how you want it and how it’ll best serve you going forward. 
  • Branding Opportunities: Enclosed trailers also provide a huge mobile billboard for your brand. You can get the perfect color to match your brand identity and add custom embellishments to really make it pop. This is great for construction companies, landscape crews, and other companies that want a clean, professional look when appearing on job sites. This is also ideal with concession and food trailers that really want to entice customers in with a sharp-looking trailer and then win them over with their great food. 

Enclosed trailers can be configured in a myriad of ways, as office trailers, pet grooming trailers, construction trailers, race trailers, and more, all depending on the needs of the job. We even offer many of these in pre-designed packages to make it easy for our customers to choose a great new enclosed trailer for their purposes. 

Drawbacks of Enclosed Cargo Trailers

Enclosed trailers are completely encapsulated meaning you’ll be limited in your sight lines when driving. You’ll also generally be limited to one or two points of ingress and egress with a single ramp door and access door up front. The shaded interior can make it harder to see your cargo without additional lighting and especially at night. 

Enclosed trailers are also generally heavier than their utility trailer counterpart so you’ll be more limited in which vehicles can handle the extra load. Enclosed trailers require more head space for parking inside which may require additional consideration depending on your facilities. The wiring for the trailer also runs under the floor which can be a little more difficult when it comes time for maintenance or with desired upgrades. 

Enclosed Vs. Open for Landscaping and Other Trades

One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is from landscapers wondering whether an enclosed vs open is ideal for their operations. The answer is always a little underwhelming in that it depends. It depends on what kind of crew you’re running, where you’re travelling to, and how you conduct business. Let’s break it down. 

  1. What’s Your Equipment Loadout?

If you’re a smaller landscape crew with one zero-turn mower, a small push, a couple weed whackers, edgers, and a backpack blower making up the bulk of your tools, you really can get by very well with a utility trailer. You’ll be able to get everything on and off quickly, your crew has full access to all their tools at all times, and you’ll have more room to load up branches or other yard debris that needs to be transported off-site. 

That being said, if you really want to protect your equipment from the elements, an enclosed trailer is your best option. But the one ramp door does add more time to loading and unloading when you get to your next job. 

  1. What’s Your Business Needs?

Even with a Thermacool® liner, the inside of an enclosed trailer does get mighty toasty, especially in the middle of the summers like we get here in Douglas. A utility trailer doesn’t offer any shade, but at least it doesn’t swelter like an enclosed trailer can. As we’ve mentioned, an enclosed trailer does provide a better opportunity for branding and marketing. You have huge walls that you can add your logo and contact information to, which can really come across as more professional than a utility trailer. 

Still, utility trailers are favored by many for their extreme versatility. Equipment racks can easily be added to the side of your utility trailer to hold equipment like edgers, weed whackers, and blowers which make it really easy to get to a job and get going immediately. 

  1. What Kind of Jobs Are You Doing?

If you want to offload your equipment and run a landscape crew for the day, you can easily load up sod, mulch, or other loose materials and bring it right to the jobsite. You can also have a completely open space for hauling debris off-site. If you combine a utility trailer with a dump trailer, you’ve just made life so much easier on your crews by adding the ability to drop material wherever it needs to be. 

When time is money in landscaping and other services, consider the options that will save time and conserve effort. Your crews will thank you and you should be able to get more done. 

Getting into Your Perfect Trailer

At Renown, all we do is hook up the right trailers for our customers needs—whether that’s an enclosed trailer or an open trailer we’ll take the time to understand your needs. This starts with taking a listening-first approach to every sale. We’ll help you walk through everything you need this new trailer to do for you and then show you the options that will do just that. If we can’t, we’ll never push a trailer that isn’t perfectly suited for your needs. 

Next Steps: Ordering a Trailer Online or Picking Up in Person

Start an online trailer order now, get financed, and even have your trailer delivered most anywhere in the US. If you’d rather come see us in person, we’d love to meet you at our dealership in beautiful Douglas, GA today. Contact our trailer pros with any questions you may have.

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