How to use every inch of your moving truck: ‘Tetris’ packing tips

Packing your own moving truck? If you’ve ever done it before, you’ll know there’s a bit of an art to getting the most out of the space.

Packing your own moving truck? If you’ve ever done it before, you’ll know there’s a bit of an art to getting the most out of the space. Here’s HOOD’s tips from the experts.

Doing multiple trips back and forth between your old house to your new one isn’t exactly a thrilling prospect, and likely something you’ll want to minimise as much as possible. The easiest way to do this is ensuring you’re getting as much packed into your moving truck as you physically can.

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Part of this is having good spatial awareness and creativity, or a healthy Tetris habit, but there are also plenty of best practices and safety precautions worth knowing to get this right. That’s why we’ve compiled this simple list of the essential things to keep in mind when packing your moving truck.


What kind of moving truck should I use?

There are three fairly typical sizes for a self-hire moving truck – 4.2m x 2.1m (1.9m³ box), 6.4m x 2.3 (34m³ box) and 7.3m x 2.4m (45m³ box). Anyone with an Australian driving license can drive the smallest van, but the latter two require a Medium Rigid licence. If you don’t already have your MR licence, it’s probably not worth going through the effort unless you’re really moving a tonne of stuff – in which case, you can get one by doing a two-day course normally priced around $1200.


A failure to plan is a plan to fail

There’s a few things to keep in mind during the packing stages of the moving process. The containers, boxes and packing materials you’re using can impact how you can take advantage of your moving truck space later.

First thing’s first, try to get boxes and containers that tessellate – this means they’ll fit together with as little space between them as possible. In an ideal circumstance, you would have everything packed in perfectly square containers that neatly slot together; but getting as close as you can will go a long way.

While packing, you’ll of course want to separate your possessions by the room they belong in, but try to also create three distinct categories of boxes: heavy, light and fragile. Mark your boxes by their contents and weight class so you don’t get mixed up later on. Once we’re up to loading the truck, we’ll want to load the heaviest boxes first and on the bottom layer, with lighter and fragile boxes at the very top.

Another strategy for maximising space in your truck is disassembling your furniture ahead of time. While this might seem tedious, it’ll save you a lot of hassle, and also make it easier to move through doors. Once everything that can be taken apart has been, measure the individual components and identify your largest, heaviest and longest items. These will be the hardest to account for on your ‘Tetris’ truck, so we’ll place them down first.

The final thing to keep in mind in preparation for moving day is ensuring you’ll have the right equipment. You should get the option to rent a trolley or have a hydraulic lift on the back of your truck when you hire one, both of these add-ons are well worth it. Particularly if you plan on moving large awkward items, like fridges, washing machines or dishwashers, a trolley will be close to essential. Also make sure you have enough straps to secure the load within your truck, these may or may not be provided with the hire. Make sure everyone who will be moving large, heavy items is equipped with a good pair of gloves, and try to collect as many old blankets and towels as possible – we’ll use these to protect our stuff from scratches and bumps while it’s jostling around in the back of our truck.


Heavy stuff first

Now that everything’s prepared, packed and hired, it’s time to get moving!  The very first things to get loaded are our largest, heaviest items and pieces of furniture – coffee tables, fridges, dismantled bed frames, tv cabinets, mattresses, washers etc. You’ll want to load these at the very back of the truck (against the cab, where the driver sits). This is where you’ll need to start engaging with your ‘Tetris’ brain, try to visualise how each piece will fit together in the truck, and the shape of the empty space that will be left behind as a result. If things don’t sit together perfectly, or there are gaps between table legs here and there, don’t worry, we’ll use these spaces later to shove smaller miscellaneous items. Use your old blankets and towels to cover easily-damaged surfaces, such as upholstery and wood.

Once all the furniture and heavy items have a spot on the truck, we can start packing around them and designating space for our boxes. You should also roll up all of your rugs, carpet, and nice blankets and towels. These come in handy for filling up awkward spaces and wedging things into place.


Weight distribution

Remember when we split our boxes up into heavy, light and fragile? This is where all that works pays off. One trick of moving trucks is getting the spread of weight right, you don’t want too much weight consolidated at any one point to displace balance of the vehicle. The reason we place our heavy furniture at the very back of the truck is because this is where the truck’s supports and suspension are strongest, but we’ll have to pay some attention to the way we spread the weight of our boxes.

Luckily, if you took our advice, this will be a relatively trivial task. Simply start with your heaviest boxes on the bottom layer, work your way up with lighter boxes and items until you’ve taken up as much vertical space as possible, then start a new layer and work your way back. Save your fragile boxes for the very end, we’ll want them on the last layer of boxes before the truck doors, and with no other boxes on top of them.

Practice good lifting technique (straight back, bend at the knees), make sure all of your helpers are well hydrated and moving things safely. The last thing you need on moving day is a surprise trip to the emergency room.


Getting everything secured

After you finish with the first step of packing your furniture and heavy items, you’ll need to do a round of securing. Most moving trucks will have bars on the inside which allow you to attach moving straps via a hook. Wrap your straps around critical parts of each piece, to ensure it stays put, and tighten well.

Strapping up your boxes is a little less laborious. It can be a good idea to strap together sections of boxes as you add more layers, if you have enough straps. However, for the most part, your main goal is making sure the middle and top layers of boxes are tightly tied together so they don’t have any room to come loose in transit.

If you stick to these principles, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting the most out of the space in your truck. Remember that efficiency is key here, so try not to compromise or get lazy with space. Stack boxes on top of your furniture where you can, and get experimental with different arrangements to get the best result.

Check out these experts in action, truly using every possible square inch. You might even find it quite satisfying.

Photo by Robinson Greig on Unsplash


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