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What To Consider When Shipping Free Weights

Posted in Shipping on Jun 20, 2016, tagged with sports and exercise equipment

If you have to ship free weights—weight plates, dumbbells, barbells, etc.—you might have a number of questions about the proper way to prep them for shipment and the best way to ship them. Free weights are extremely dense and might seem impossible to pack and ship if you’ve never done it before. Don’t worry, we have answers to your questions and tips to help get your shipment ready.

Should You Ship Them Yourself?

Depending on the quantity of free weights you need to move and the distance you need to move them, you might be wondering whether you should hire a shipping company to transport them or do it yourself. If you only have a few weights to move, it might be worth the time and effort to do it yourself, but otherwise, hiring a professional team with the right equipment to lift heavy shipments and the experience to pack them properly means you don’t have to worry about damaging your weights or missing leg day because of an avoidable injury. 

Do Free Weights Need to be Palletized?

One of the top considerations when shipping free weights is whether to palletize them. Ultimately, the LTL (less-than-truckload) shipper you select for the job is in the best position to answer this question. Depending on the type of equipment the shipper has, palletizing may or may not be practical. Generally, it is not necessary to palletize free weights because they can be stowed securely without being secured to a pallet. However, for long-distance shipment or to make loading and unloading faster, palletizing is a plus.

If you are shipping dumbbells or other free weights and want to palletize, the first challenge is obtaining pallets. Check with small and midsize manufacturers and distributors in your area. Often, these companies receive materials on pallets and are always looking for ways to dispose of them — they may be willing to give you a few pallets for free if you pick them up. Make sure the pallet(s) is not falling apart, and that it is a standard size pallet — 48” x 40” is the most common size for a wood pallet. Another consideration is whether the pallet is a two-way or four-way entry pallet. Your carrier may have a preference, so check with the shipper before obtaining your pallet(s).

Tips for Palletizing Free Weights

Positioning and stacking free weights on a pallet requires a bit of forethought. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make the load as stable as possible. Don’t stack free weights of identical size on top of one another, instead, stack them in an interlocking pattern — this prevents the stack from being overly tippy.

  • Make each layer on the pallet as wide as possible, but avoid any overhang — overhang complicates handling and stowage.

  • Don’t place too much weight on the individual pallet. As always, your carrier is in the best position to advise you on the maximum allowable weight for a pallet, as it depends on their handling equipment, insurance coverage, and other factors. Generally, it is never advisable to place more than 1,000-1,500 pounds on a single pallet—250-500 pounds is a good benchmark.

  • Secure the free weights to the pallet. Because of the weight and density of the material, a strong plastic strapping will be the most secure method. Plastic strapping, seals tensioners and sealers can be purchased online; you may be able to rent the tools or obtain them and the strapping from your carrier. You will need to make sure you understand how to use the strapping and tools, since applying too much or too little tension to the straps could cause your free weights to break loose in transit or handling, with potentially serious consequences. Also make sure your strapping is rated to handle the weight and density of the total weight you are packing on your pallet(s).

  • Be sure to palletize your free weights in the garage or driveway. Once the weights are palletized, the carrier’s forklift or pallet jack must be able to access it easily — something that won’t be possible if the palletized load of free weights is in your basement!

Not sure you can handle the palletizing on your own, or have other things to do? Let us know! We can offer advice or arrange to have the work done for you!

How Much Does Shipping Free Weights Cost?

The cost of shipping on LTL carriers hinges mainly on the item’s freight class. The freight classification system is the national standard, defined and overseen by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA). As a general rule, the heavier and denser the item, the more economical it is to ship. This is because a carrier can stow more dollars worth of heavy, dense items on a truck than, say, a truckload of pillows. Because free weights are indeed heavy and dense, they are relatively economical to ship! However, freight charges are also based on the overall weight of what is being transported — and free weights are, of course, heavy. Although freight classifications are the standard, LTL carriers have leeway in determining fees, so check with a few carriers and get competitive bids. The best LTL carrier options:

  • Know how to ship free weights and other heavy, awkward items. Unless the carrier knows how to handle and stow free weights, and has the proper equipment to do so, there is a greater chance of damage or wasted time, either of which can result in higher charges to you.

  • Have a volume of business in your pickup and destination locations (this makes them more efficient in scheduling and faster in delivery).

  • Have a solid track record of customer satisfaction — you can learn a lot from reading online customer reviews on the shipper’s website and public review sites.