Conestoga Trailers Everything you need to know Truckers Wiki

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What are Conestoga Trailers?

Conestoga trailers, also known as rolling tarp systems, are a type of semi-trailer characterized by a flexible, retractable tarp system that covers the load. This design allows for easy loading and unloading from the sides, rear, or top of the trailer, while still providing full protection for the cargo.

Design and Features

At first glance, a Conestoga trailer might look similar to a standard flatbed trailer. However, the unique, retractable tarp system sets it apart. The tarp, which slides on rails mounted to the trailer’s sides, can be fully opened or closed, offering versatile loading and unloading options. This retractable tarp system is designed to protect cargo from the elements, as well as potential road damage.

Conestoga trailers can accommodate a wide range of cargo sizes, with lengths generally ranging from 48 to 53 feet, and capacities up to 50,000 pounds. They typically have an internal height of about 8 feet, providing ample vertical space for cargo.

Common Uses

Due to their versatility and cargo protection, Conestoga trailers are used across numerous industries. They are ideal for transporting cargo that is sensitive to weather conditions, such as wood, steel, machinery, and automotive parts. Moreover, they are commonly used when cargo requires side or overhead loading, such as palletized goods or large machinery.

Benefits and Drawbacks


  1. Versatile Loading and Unloading: The retractable tarp system enables cargo to be loaded or unloaded from the sides, rear, or top of the trailer, offering increased flexibility.

  2. Cargo Protection: The covered design of a Conestoga trailer offers excellent protection for cargo from weather and potential damage from road debris.

  3. Efficiency: The ease of opening and closing the Conestoga system can save significant time during the loading and unloading process.


  1. Cost: Conestoga trailers tend to be more expensive than traditional flatbed trailers due to their specialized tarp system.

  2. Maintenance: The moving parts of the Conestoga system require regular maintenance to ensure smooth operation.


Conestoga trailers offer a unique and efficient solution for hauling cargo that requires protection from the elements or special loading procedures. While they may involve higher upfront costs and maintenance, their benefits often make them a valuable asset in the transport industry. Whether you’re shipping delicate machinery, weather-sensitive materials, or large palletized goods, a Conestoga trailer can be an excellent choice.

To learn more about the types of trailers used in the trucking industry click here. 

Image Credit: Royalty Speed

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