How much can you Store in a Shipping Container?

Just how much can you store in a Shipping Container?

There are literally millions of shipping containers being used throughout the world right now. From  simple and secure forms of storage, to building blocks for bespoke homes, shipping containers come in various sizes and can used for a variety of purposes. However, the question remains, just how much can you store in a shipping container?

Shipping Container History


Prior to 1950, the shipping container hadn’t been invented, and shipping costs were around $5.86 per ton. Young pioneer, Malcolm Purcell McLean from New York City, sought to resolve this problem with ideas taken from the transportation of weaponry during World War 2. After refitting two World War 2 tankers to carry his newly designed containers, he successfully sailed from New Jersey to the Port of Houston, Texas, with 58x 35ft Trailer Vans (or containers as we now call them).

During this period, manual loading with dock hands was the only way to load cargo ships. You had cases, cartons, bags, drums, crates and reels that all had to be hand-balled onto the ship. By using these new containers, the cost of loading a ship dropped dramatically to only $0.16 per ton. Not only this, but the time taken to load these new containers was a lot quicker than hand loading individual items. In fact, McLean’s invention was so revolutionary, he is commonly referred to as “one of the few men who changed the world.” 

Point to note, the very first container delivered to Scotland was during April of 1966, when Sea-Land (the name of McLean’ company at that time) commenced services between New York, Bremen, Rotterdam and Grangemouth, Scotland. The very same port we collect and ship from, to this day!

Long Term Storage

Although the majority of goods are shipped from country to country using shipping containers, we don’t recommend using a shipping container as storage for any longer than 6 months. If your container is insulated, you won’t have this problem. However, if you keep a steel shipping container outside and open to the elements, then the goods inside will eventually suffer from the condensation that forms on the inside. This moisture is the last thing you want, as any fabric based belongings such as sofas or clothes, will absorb the dampness and be ruined!


Types of Shipping Container

Not all shipping containers are created equally. They come in a variety of lengths and even heights! The most popular and most common size of shipping container is the 20ft standard height one. Capable of holding 28,000kg worth of goods inside, these containers can easily be stacked to save space, and offer great value for money.

The 4 most common lengths of shipping container are 20ft, 30ft, 40ft and 45ft. Each of these containers stand at roughly 2.39m tall (7.84ft). Where as the “high cube” versions of each, measure 2.65m in height (8.71ft).

However, how much can you comfortably fit inside a shipping container? Check out our guide below for each type of shipping container that illustrates the sizes and the volumes for each one. In terms of maximum weight, every shipping container will be able to carry a load of 28,000kg. Whether you have a crane that can pick up a 28t load is a different story! Need a price for shipping good abroad? Give us a call today on 0800 043 6683, or contact us.

Container Type Internal Dimensions Max. Cargo Weight
45ft Standard 2,340 x 13,550 x 2,360 mm 28,000 kg
45ft High Cube 2,340 x 13,550 x 2,655 mm 27,800 kg
40ft Standard 2,350 x 12,030 x 2,390 mm 28,800 kg
40ft High Cube 2,350 x 12,030 x 2,390 mm 28,600 kg
30ft Standard 2,340 x 8,940 x 2,360 mm 28,400 kg
30ft High Cube 2,340 x 8,940 x 2,655 mm 28,200 kg
20ft Standard 2350 x 5900 x 2390 mm 28,200 kg
20ft High Cube 2350 x 5900 x 2655 mm 28,000 kg

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