The Gateway Guide to Non Standard Shipping Containers

It’s easy to write shipping containers off as simple steel boxes that come in a few different sizes from 10-40 foot long – but that would be wrong. There a wide variety of different types of shipping containers available on the market today, all with different uses.  And that’s before you even start exploring all the different types of modified shipping containers that are out there.

A Shipping Container for almost any application….

Dry Storage Containers

These are your standard everyday container and the ones that we deal with 90% of the time. They come in ISO standardised sizes including 10 foot, 20 foot and 40 foot. They are built from Corten Steel and have wooden flooring and are primarily for, as their name suggests, the transportation and storage of dry goods.

Open Sided Containers

These containers are the standard dimensions as ordinary 20 foot or 40 foot shipping containers, but are different in that they have have access doors on the sides of the containers. These doors allow users to load and unload goods that are wider than standard sized containers.

Stacked side opening containers for sale

Tunnel Containers

Tunnel Containers are similar to standard dry storage containers except that they have a door opening on either end for easy loading and unloading.

Hard Top or Open Topped Containers

Hard Top containers are usually the same dimensions (20 or 40 foot) as standard dry storage containers except they are roofless, or come with removable steel roof allowing them to transport taller or oversized products. Removal of the roof also allows loading or unloading of heavy objects using a crane or similar device. When the roof is removed it is able to be stored by fastening it to the inside of one of the sides of the shipping container.

Open Topped containers are similar, but instead of a removable hard top, they have roof bows that allow a tarpaulin to be used as a roofing cover for the container.

20ft Open top shipping containers Brisbane

Flat Rack Containers

These containers have collapsible sides allowing them to be stacked sideways in a standard ISO container when not being used. They are used to transport bulky, non standard sized goods such as heavy machinery and vehicles.


Platforms are similar to flat rack containers, with the exception that they do not have walls or sides. Instead they are simply an extremely strong base that is the same size as a standard container allowing heavy, odd sized loads to be transported and concentrated in a small surface area.

Ventilated Containers

These containers have ventilation for transportation and storage of food products such as bananas or coffee beans (and are often referred to as coffee containers). They have openings for passive ventilation at the top and bottom of the container that are specifically designed so they do not let in the spray of sea water. Active ventilation can also be utilised with fans or portholes.

Refrigerated “Reefer” Containers

Refrigerated containers come in both 20 foot and 40 foot sizes and are used when the temperature needs to be controlled for goods that can spoil. Reefers have a temperature range of anywhere from minus 20 to 25 degree celsius and come in both standard and hi cube heights.

20ft Refridgerated containers reefer Gateway Container Sales

Insulated Containers

Insulated containers are containers that have interior insulation to keep goods protected from extreme hot or cold temperatures. These are ideal as the base for conversions to container accommodation. These are available in 20 foot or 40 foot lengths.

High Cube Containers

High cube containers are exactly what they sound like. Containers that are taller than standard containers. They take up the same amount of ground space as standard 40 foot or 20 foot shipping containers, but are an extra 305mm taller allowing for more storage of bulky lightweight goods. Occasionally 45 foot high cube containers are also available.

Pink 20ft high cube side

Bulk Containers

Bulk Containers are very similar to standard shipping containers with the exception of loading holes on the top of the container. These make it easier to load bulk products such as grains or spices.

Tank Containers

Tank containers are designed for carrying liquids in a standard ISO shipping container. They generally consist of a large metal tank with supporting frame that will stack like an ordinary shipping container. Tank containers may or may not be insulated depending on what is being stored or transported.

Half Height Containers

As the name suggests, these containers are half the height of a standard shipping container and used for the loading transport and storage of heavy bulk goods such as coal or rocks.

Car Carrier Containers

Car carrier containers come in a variety of non standard sizes and allow cars to be stored either on an angle or stacked on top of each other (depending on car size) for international transport. This allows the transportation and storage of a much larger number of vehicles than traditional roll on, roll off transport.

And There You Have It

There’s a lot more to shipping containers than the ordinary 20 and 40 foot steel boxes. With such a wide variety of container options there is something for almost any transportation, housing or storage use. Of course, if it isn’t available off the shelf it can almost certainly be customised to your own unique specifications.

Contact the team at Gateway Container Sales and Hire now to discuss how we can find you the best shipping container for your needs.

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