What Equipment Do You Need For Successful Hot Shot Trucking Deliveries?

June 17, 2024

Team ACV




What Equipment Do You Need For Successful Hot Shot Trucking Deliveries?

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Hot shot trucking has grown in popularity as a way to combine the earning potential of over-the-road trucking with the flexibility of creating your own schedule.¹ For many, the idea of driving a smaller truck and delivering time-sensitive loads on tight deadlines is more appealing than the traditional long-haul trucking lifestyle. 

To succeed in hot shot trucking, you'll need to ensure you have all the right equipment. Beyond a reliable truck and trailer, there are a few other key materials and services that can help you along the way.

While hot shot loads tend to be smaller than a full truckload, proper tie-downs, tarps, and other cargo control equipment are necessary if you want to deliver on time and safely. And the right trucking supplies allow you to take on a wider variety of jobs and provide top-notch service to your customers. It also ensures you operate within regulations to avoid violations or fines.

From tie-down straps and chains to tarps and tool boxes, there is a full suite of hot shot trucking equipment you should have on hand.

Truck and Trailer Options for Hot Shot Trucking

One of the first big decisions for hot shot truckers is what vehicle and trailer combination to use. Unlike traditional over-the-road trucking with semi-trucks, hot shot truckers typically utilize medium-duty trucks and a variety of trailer options. The right setup depends on the types of loads you plan to haul. Here are our picks for the best hot shot trucks for hot shot trucking.

Truck Classifications 

Hot shot trucks usually fall into the Class 3, 4, or 5 truck categories as defined by gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR).² 

Class 3 trucks range from 10,001 to 14,000 lbs, Class 4 is 14,001 to 16,000 lbs, and Class 5 trucks are 16,001 to 19,500 lbs—each offering increasing levels of power and hauling capabilities.

These are some of the most common hot shot truck types in each category:

  • Class 3 (10,001-14,000 lbs GVWR): GMC Sierra 3500, Ram 3500, Ford F-350, Chevrolet Silverado 3500
  • Class 4 (14,001-16,000 lbs GVWR): Ram 4500, Chevy Silverado 4500HD, Ford F-450
  • Class 5 (16,001-19,500 lbs GVWR): Ram 5500, Ford F-550, Chevy Silverado 5500HD, Peterbilt 325³

Trailer Types 

When it comes to trailers, gooseneck and bumper pull are two of the most common options for hot shot truckers. 

Gooseneck trailers have a unique bent neck that connects to a truck bed hitch, allowing for a tight turning radius. These are growing in popularity but require a specialized truck setup. Bumper pull trailers use a standard hitch and can be more affordable upfront.

Here are a few other hot shot trailer options to consider: 

  • Flatbed/deckover trailers: Allow for easy loading and unloading
  • Dovetail trailers: Include a graduated rear ramp for low-clearance cargo
  • Tilt deck/lowboy trailers: Suitable for hauling oversized or heavy machinery

The truck and trailer you select should match the typical hot shot loads you plan to haul in terms of size, weight capacity, and ease of securing the cargo properly.⁴ The right combo enables you to take on more job opportunities safely and efficiently.

Hot Shot Tie-Down Equipment

No matter what type of truck and trailer setup you run, having the proper tie-down equipment is an absolute must. Properly securing your cargo prevents load shifts and ensures safe, damage-free deliveries—and keeps you earning without paying out damages.

Ratchet Straps and Chains 

Ratchet straps feature a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to tighten the polyester webbing over your cargo until it's completely secure. They come in various lengths like 20, 27, and 30 feet as well as different widths from 1" up to 4" wide. Common end fittings include flat hooks, S-hooks, and grab hooks.

For extremely heavy loads, transport chains offer the best strength and durability. Grade 70 transport chains are a popular option made from durable alloy steel.⁵ Make sure to pair them with chain binders to tighten the chains down properly.

Chain Binders

Speaking of binders, you'll need good-quality ratchet binders or lever-load binders to cinch your transport chains. 

Ratchet binders have a ratcheting mechanism that allows you to tighten the chain incrementally with less effort. Lever binders use leverage for very rapid chain tightening, though they have a higher risk of recoil if not properly seated. Ratchet binders are generally safer than lever binders, but lever binders provide much faster tightening.⁶

Winch Straps and Winch Systems

If you'll be running a flatbed trailer, a winch strap and winch system is ideal for securing larger cargo. Winch straps run through aluminum winches mounted on the trailer frame, using a winch bar to crank them down tight. They provide excellent grip strength over long stretches of cargo, and movable winches give you more flexibility for positioning winch straps over off-centered loads.

Corner Protectors and Sleeves

As you tighten down straps and chains, don't let them dig into and damage your freight. Corner and edge protectors create a protective barrier between the tie-downs and cargo. Heavy-duty sleeves that fit over straps also prevent fraying. Ribbed corner protectors or vee boards made of HDPE plastic or aluminum offer top strength.

Coil Racks and Mats 

When hauling steel coils, specially designed coil racks and rubber-lined coil mats prevent the coils from shifting during transport.⁷ Racks can be set up in a variety of configurations along your trailer deck and should be spaced out to distribute the weight evenly.

Tarps and Cargo Protection

Having the right tarps protects your hot shot loads from weather, road debris, and other potential damage—no one wants to end up with damaged goods and upset customers.

Flatbed and Lumber Tarps

For open flatbed or deckover trailers, heavy-duty flatbed tarps and lumber tarps provide full coverage over your freight. Flatbed tarps are constructed from heavy 18–22 oz vinyl with reinforced edges. Lumber tarps have flap extensions draping over the trailer sides to enclose tall loads.

Enclosed Trailer Covers

If running an enclosed trailer, you'll want full trailer covers made of breathable mesh or vinyl. These cover the entire trailer opening to protect the interior. Mesh covers allow airflow to reduce condensation buildup on longer hauls.⁸

Tarp Accessories

To secure any type of tarp, you'll need a few accessories, like D-rings, straps, and edge protectors. Rubber tarp straps cinch the tarp tightly over the trailer. D-rings provide secure tie-down points along the tarp edges and trailer frame. Look for aluminum D-rings that won't corrode or bend out of shape for longevity.

Safety and Compliance Equipment

In addition to securing their cargo, hot shot truckers need to carry and wear the proper safety gear and comply with regulations. Having the right equipment demonstrates professionalism and helps you avoid violations.

Wheel Chocks 

Wheel chocks are a simple but vital piece of truck safety equipment. When stopping or parking, chocks wedge against the trailer wheels to prevent rollaways. DOT regulations require them anytime the truck is left unattended. Carry a few chock styles of different sizes to accommodate different wheel sizes and surfaces.

Conspicuity Tape and Lighting 

DOT rules also require conspicuity markings and lights on the rear of trucks and trailers to improve visibility.⁹ Durable DOT-C2 reflective tape and working trailer light connections are must-haves.

For oversized loads, you'll need extra lighting and markings, like "Oversize Load" banners, to alert other drivers.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Don't forget about PPE to keep yourself safe. Properly rated safety vests, gloves, steel-toed boots, and hard hats should all be part of your truck's gear.

Licenses and Certifications

Depending on your truck/trailer setup, you may need specific licenses and certifications beyond a standard driver's license. Many hot shot truckers obtain a CDL for maximum job flexibility,though it’s often unnecessary for most loads. 

You'll also need a DOT number, USDOT medical certificate, TWIC card if hauling certain freight.¹⁰ Research carefully what credentials you need based on the truck GVWR, trailer size, and freight types you'll be hauling.

Don’t Skimp on Your Hot Shot Setup

Having a professional setup with all the necessary trucking equipment demonstrates your credibility and commitment to the industry. It allows you to safely haul freight while avoiding potential violations or damages. While there is an investment required, the right hot shot trucking equipment pays dividends through more job opportunities and higher earning potential.

If you're looking to take your hot shot trucking business to the next level, teaming up with ACV Transportation can open up new revenue streams. 

With ACV Transportation, you gain access to hundreds of car dealerships across the nation that need hot shot transport services daily. Sign up for our free auto transport load board to tap into this constant stream of hot shot loads.


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  2. Prime Inc. “What Is Hotshot Trucking? Is It a Good Way to Gain Experience?” Prime Inc., https://www.primeinc.com/trucking-blogs/what-is-hotshot-trucking/. Accessed 10 June 2024.
  3. Mytee Products Team. “Hot Shot Trucking Basics.” Mytee Products, www.myteeproducts.com/blog/hot-shot-trucking-basics/. Accessed 10 June 2024
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  7. Halvorsen, Christine. “What Are the Differences Between Grade 70 Chain, Grade 80 Chain, Grade 100 Chain, and Grade 120 Chain?” US Cargo Control, 14 Sept. 2013, www.uscargocontrol.com/blogs/blog/differences-grade-70-chain-grade-80-chain-grade-100-chain. Accessed 10 June 2024.
  8. Elgin, Scott. “What Is Hot Shot Trucking? Everything You Need to Know.” TruckInfo.net, 25 Oct. 2023, www.truckinfo.net/guides/what-is-hot-shot-trucking. Accessed 10 June 2024.
  9. Ifloortape Team. “Requirements for Conspicuity DOT-C2 Reflective Tape to Meet Federal DOT Regulations.” Ifloortape, 7 Oct. 2021, www.ifloortape.com/blog/requirements-for-conspicuity-dotc2-reflective-tape-to-meet-federal-dot-regulations/. Accessed 10 June 2024.
  10. Sandage, Baily. “Breaking Down the Requirements for Non-CDL Hot Shot Trucking.” TruckingHQ, 21 Apr. 2023, www.truckinghq.com/non-cdl-hot-shot-trucking-requirements/. Accessed 10 June 2024.