How to Choose the Best Work Truck Bed [The Ultimate Guide]

November 24th, 2021 by

For the first time ever this year, pickup truck sales exceeded that of passenger cars in the United States. Light and heavy-duty pickup trucks can be used for a variety of jobs, including hauling materials or pulling equipment and trailers. With so many options in terms of performance and features, it can be difficult to determine what truck is right for your business or personal needs.

The good news is that there are only two categories to consider when selecting a work truck: payload/towing capacity and bed customization. This basically means having a clear idea of what type of work you need to do with your truck and how much power you need to do it.

Striking a balance is key. You want to select the right truck that combines hauling/towing capacity with fuel efficiency and fits within your budget.

Mid and full-size trucks come in a range of engine and cargo permutations, and custom truck beds are available for almost any job. Keep reading for more information on how to select the ideal truck for your needs, including a discussion of the best work truck beds and the best custom flat beds available for any given job.

Payload and Towing Capacity

Payload capacity is how much a vehicle can carry. Towing capacity is how much it can pull. The first thing you will want to determine is how much weight is involved in your everyday jobs.

Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) is the total weight of the vehicle plus that of the most passengers and cargo it can carry. Mid-size trucks have a GVWR of 4,300 to 6,000 pounds. Full-size trucks will be in the range of 6,400 to 13,300 pounds.

Full-size trucks are then categorized into ½-ton, ¾-ton, and 1-ton pickups. Note that, while the industry continues to use these demarcations, payload capacities for these three categories have shifted upwards in recent years.

The payload is the amount of people and cargo the vehicle can carry without any towing. To calculate it, subtract the vehicle curb weight (its weight without anything in it) from the total GVWR. A good range for each vehicle type is:

  • Mid-size: under 1,500 lbs
  • ½-ton: 1,500 – 2,000 lbs
  • ¾-ton: 2,000 – 4,000 lbs
  • 1-ton: 3,000 – 6,500 lbs

Towing weight calculation is a little more complicated, but using the gross weight of your trailer along with GVWR will give you a good idea of capacity. Remember to factor in the tongue weight of the trailer, which is usually in the ballpark of 10 to 15 percent of the trailer’s total weight.

It is a good policy to over estimate how much weight you need to haul or pull. Pushing these limits could damage your truck’s transmission or axles, not to mention jeopardize your or your passengers’ safety.

Custom Truck Beds

Besides how much you need to carry, what you need to carry is the other consideration. Note that, while many options are available for mid-size trucks, larger vehicles will offer more options for customization since there is more cargo area to work with.

Best Work Truck Beds

A “standard” bed is your regular rectangular bed that comes on most trucks. However, even basic trucks can come with custom options.

“Flareside” or “stepside” beds (different manufacturers use different names) have extended flare wheels and steps wrapping around the back edges of the bed. These upgrades can come in handy for jobs that involve a lot of loading and unloading or where you need to easily get in and out of the bed.

Basic work truck beds can come in a range of sizes, from five-and-a-half to eight feet in length. These basic options may turn out to be the best custom truck beds for your business needs.

Best Custom Flat Beds

Your business may require something beyond a basic work truck bed. Fortunately, you can purchase almost any mid or full-size truck with a standard cab and customizable chassis or rear half of the vehicle. Some bed options include:

  • Enclosed service
  • Service body
  • Dump bed
  • Rollback or landscape bed
  • Wrecker

An enclosed service bed offers the benefit of a fully-contained cargo area. These can be useful for keeping tools and equipment secure and out of the weather.

Service or utility body trucks can be used for all kinds of jobs. They allow you to organize and carry whatever types of equipment your business needs. They also can come with enclosed compartments to secure tools and supplies. You can configure them to accommodate additional tools, too.

Dump beds feature an open-top body that sits on top of the chassis. These are used for hauling large amounts of materials or dirt from one destination to another. They often are fitted with hydraulic systems for lifting the front end of the bed and dumping materials.

Rollback bodies are used for transporting other vehicles. Like dump bodies, they have a mobile bed that lifts from the chassis at an angle and uses a cable and winch to pull vehicles on top of it.

Work trucks also can also be customized with a full wrecker body. These are ideal for towing cars without loading the entire vehicle onto the bed. Tow trucks hoist the front end of the car while allowing the back wheels to roll.

Landscaping beds are also similar to rollbacks but have a more basic design. They come equipped with ramps for driving a lawnmower or other machines onto the bed, as opposed to angling the bed itself. These also can be customized with racks for organizing and hauling additional equipment and supplies.

Find the Best Custom Truck Beds

Now that you have a grasp of payload/towing capacity and the availability of custom truck beds, you can begin narrowing down your options. The best work truck beds are the ones that meet the requirements of the job. The most important thing to remember is that you can select almost any cab model you while customizing the chassis to meet your hauling needs.

Carl Black Orlando has a large inventory of commercial trucks for your business or personal needs. We carry a variety of brands, including Chevrolet, GMC, Reading Truck Bodies, Knapheide, Monroe, Action Fabrication, and more. We offer cab chassis trucks and custom truck beds for any of the options discussed above.

We also have a range of medium-size work trucks, like the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, as well as larger ones like the Silverado 6500, for different payload and towing needs. Whether you are looking for a basic work truck or the best custom flat beds available, we can find the truck that is right for you.