How Much Can I Really Store In A Portable Storage Container?


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Portable Storage Containers

Shipping containers are making waves around the world for being excellent, budget-friendly storage options for businesses. But have you’ve ever wondered exactly how much you can store in a portable shipping container? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s your 101 for shipping container storage space.

Portable Storage Infographic

What is the size of a shipping container?

First, let’s break down the most common shipping containers. All shipping containers are standardized after the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) set standard sizes for containers in 1961. Standard sizes allow for shipping containers to be efficiently stacked one on top of the other.

Cargo storage is measured in 20 foot equivalent units or TEUs as they are called. The most widely used shipping containers (also known as cargo or intermodal containers) come in the following sizes:

  • 10 ft. containers: These containers are equivalent to 0.5 TEU, hold 560 cubic feet each, and are used for -commercial storage in tight spaces.
  • 20 ft. containers: A 20-ft. container is 1 TEU and the shipping container volume is about 1,160 cubic feet.
  • 40 ft. containers: A 40 ft. container equals 2 TEU and holds 2,387 cubic feet.

How much does a shipping container weigh?

Twenty foot containers weigh about two tons, and are designed to carry heavy cargo such as machinery and heavy commodities including sugar, paper, cement, and steel.

Forty foot containers weigh anywhere between 3.5 and 4.2 tons. They are capable of carrying large volume, lightweight goods. For example, consumer goods like toys, cotton, and electronics are often goods that take up a lot of space, but don’t weigh that much.

Shipping Container Capacity - Industry Examples

So how much can a shipping container actually carry? To give you a better about capacity, we’ve put together sample lists from different industries for each size shipping container:

Portable Storage Container







Retail - Retail storage space comes at a premium, especially during peak seasons. Shipping containers are ideal for inventory storage.

20 ft.

  • 1-2 aisles of seasonal inventory or supplies
  • Nine to ten standard pallets in one tier
  • 400 flat screen TVs
  • 50-60 refrigerators
  • 1,512 cases of soda
  • 7,816 reams of paper
  • 486,799 Grade A eggs

40 ft.

  • 20-21 standard pallets in one tier
  • Multiple aisles of retail inventory, equipment or supplies
  • 1,052 lawn chairs
  • 17,933 gallons of water
  • 2,720 inflated beach balls 

Automotive - Many dealerships choose shipping containers for safe and secure storage.  

20 ft.

  • 168 Nascar tires
  • 2 average sized cars or SUVs

40 ft.

  • 360 tires on tread (with 3 tier tire shelving)
  • 4 compact sized cars
  • 2 large cars or SUVs

Construction - Shipping container make safely storing expensive equipment and materials on site easy. Plus shipping containers fit perfectly on trucks for transportation to project sites.

Construction Site







20 ft.

  • 12, 580 5 lb. boxes of 2.5-inch nails
  • 1,021 60 lb. bags of cement
  • 3,962 2 x 4 x 8 wooden boards
  • Skid steers, mini steamrollers or mini excavators

40 ft.

  • Front-end loaders or excavators (might need some disassembly of parts)

Shipping containers are mobile, inexpensive, and multi-purpose storage for expanding businesses and startups. Don’t worry about renting expensive commercial space anymore. Take your shipping container wherever you go, and secure your goods with our high-security containers. We also help you save extra on container rent, with our unique 30-day billing cycle.

Your shipping container can now be delivered faster by our own fleet of trucks and trailers. If you’d like to rent or buy a shipping container, request a quote today

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