How To Pack and Load a Moving Container

Everything you need to know to pack your moving container like a pro.


Packing up all your belongings and moving to a new home is no easy task. While the process is time consuming, and can be frustrating at times, it's important to be mindful and take the time to protect your items from damage during a move.

Most people use a portable container for a move because they like having the extra time to pack. Not only does it give you more time, but it also means you don't need to be surrounded by packing boxes in your current home for the weeks leading up to moving day. 

If you've made the choice to move your belongings on your own, then these packing tips will show you how to pack a moving container so they all arrive to your new home in one piece!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Cardboard and/or Plastic Moving Boxes
  • Tie-Down / Ratchet Straps
  • Moving Blankets
  • Packing Tape, Film and Paper

Make a Plan - Take Stock of Your Items

Keep Load Horizontal and Heavier Items on the Bottom

Before you start packing and boxing up all of your belongings give some thought to how the items will need to be loaded into the moving container so they do not shift with the braking and turning that is an inevitable part of transport.

There are a few fundamentals to consider when you're planning how to load your moving container.

  1. Keep the load level horizontal
    If you're not stacking items all the way to the ceiling of the Box, you'll want to maintain a consistent gap between your content and the ceiling throughout the container.
  2. Stack heavier items on the bottom
    This sounds logical but it's an easy thing to forget if you don't have a loading plan. Sort or organize your packing boxes according to weight and size as best you can before loading them into the container.
  3. Fill all spaces with smaller items
    This is the chance to fit in those odd-shaped items that might not fit with other items in a box. Fewer gaps equals less shifting.

Start Packing Household Items

Label Boxes, Organize Boxes by Weight, Avoid Heavy Items in Big Boxes


If you follow our packing tips and this Moving Checklist, you're going to start by packing all your seldom used or seasonal items about six weeks prior to your move date.

You'll want to label your boxes carefully so you know the contents, but you may also want to consider using codes for weight. It could be as simple as using H for heavy, M for medium and L for light. You're obviously going to be able to tell what's heavy when you pick it up, but why risk your back if you don't need to!

Avoid having large boxes that are full of light items. If you have a large box of pillows, it's going to be difficult to find a place to stack that in the container. Remember, you want heavier and larger items on the bottom and smaller lighter items on the top.

Start Loading Your Moving Container

Seasonal Items First, Manage Weight Distribution, Fill Spaces for Stability

As you finish packing up boxes load them into your container. Organize the items by weight and size, which will make it easier to fill spaces on moving day.

  1. Pack in Order
    Pack items you won't need in your new home for the first couple of weeks first. Load boxes filled with seasonal items, or things you had stored in your garage or basement first. Start stacking boxes down the length of the container. Make sure you leave enough space so you can still move larger items to the back.

    Manage the weight of your items. Do not place all your heavy belongings on one side of the container, match the weight distribution from front to back and from side to side.

    Pack from floor to ceiling; make sure you have optimized all the vertical space before you start expanding outwards towards the door of your container.

    Pack things you'll need immediately after moving in, like dishes, clothing and bedding last so it's the first to come out of the container at your new home.
  2. Fill in Empty Spaces for Stability
    Fill spaces between large items with smaller boxes or flexible goods, like outdoor cushions. The more you wedge and secure your heavy items into your storage container, the less they will move around during the move and reduce the risk of damaging other belongings.
  3. Secure Sections of the Load
    If you've chosen to move with a BigSteelBox, you'll find D-Rings every 4 feet along the inside of a 20' Box to hold tie-down/ratchet straps. If you start to realize you're not going to fill the Box to the very top, you'll either want to adjust the load so it is level, or make sure you have secured a section (or a few sections) with cross bracing.

    Once you reach a set of D-Rings in your BigSteelBox and the load is packed evenly from side to side and top to bottom, stand a mattress on its end and push it up against the section of loaded items. Then use the tie-down straps to create an “X” across the mattress. This will help keep a whole section in place. *Note: If you are using a mattress to secure your belongings inside a BigSteelBox, we recommend that you make sure the mattress is not pressed directly against the doors of the BigSteelBox.

Prepare for Pick Up of Your Loaded Moving Container

Secure the Load, Lock It Up

Load as much as you can into your container the day before moving day. This will give you more time for the last minute items like dishes and bedding.

Securing your load for transport is the most important step you can take to guard against damage.

Rest assured, the pick up and drop off of your loaded BigSteelBox is a very slow, gentle process. While the container is tilted when the Box is lifted onto the deck of the truck, the angle is no greater than driven up or down hills. In addition, the starting and stopping of the truck will actually put far more pressure on your contents.

However, if you’re unsure about something’s safety in the Box, take it with you. If you're not sure that you want to risk your grandmother’s favourite painting or a family heirloom being broken in the move, put it aside and find a safe place in your car.

Before the truck arrives, close your container and place your deadbolt lock inside the lock box. (Make sure the lock is not exposed by simply locking the door handles.) Keep the key to your lock somewhere safe (like on your car key chain), so that it’s easy to find when it comes time to open your container and start to unpack.

Still need a BigSteelBox moving container? Call us today to order your BigSteelBox at 1-800-373-1187 or request your free quote online.


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