Wednesday, October 19, 2011

U-Haul U-Box Dimensions

Today’s world of instant information and ultimate convenience has spawned a large selection of portable self storage options.  What once involved numerous visits to a potentially scary and altogether industrial self storage facility has now become as simple as a phone call to a mobile storage provider and a delivery to your driveway.  There is just no question that portable storage containers are the ultimate in efficient storage and moving convenience for the do-it-yourself folks out there.  We can all thank PODS for creating a concept that is revolutionizing the storage and moving industry this way.  It’s clear that PODS was the first and is the largest, but many interesting alternatives have come in their wake and look to improve on the service.  The difficult question is how do they all differ, what sets each service provider apart.  Since there are so many variables to consider in the evaluation of a portable storage provider, the aim of this blog is to discuss them one by one so that you can have the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Looking for PODS container dimensions instead?  Check out this post: PODS Container Size Review

Today our subject is the U-Haul U-Box storage unit.  If you are considering using a U-Box for storage or moving, you may be asking yourself, just what are the actual interior dimensions of a U-Haul U-box.  I don’t blame you.  It’s a really good piece of information to have.  After all, you need to know how many U-Boxes you would need for all your stuff.  Does U-Haul give you the internal dimensions?  Well let’s look.  Here is a graphic from their website describing the U-Box: 
U-Haul U-Box advertisement

 As you can see U-Haul claims that their boxes are: 8’ X 5’ X 7’6” (LXWXH) with a capacity of 300 cubic feet and 2,000 lbs.  They also claim that a U-Box fits about a room and a half of household items and that if you got it into your house, you can get it into a U-Box.  That’s all pretty interesting marketing.  But is any of it accurate?  Since I am a stickler for details claimed by such marketing messages, I decided to take a little trip to find a U-Box to measure.  I found a couple in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  I found 10 in fact in someone’s driveway and they were nice enough to let me scope out the boxes.

First of all, before I get into my findings, I think its interesting that anyone would use so many U-Boxes when there are larger storage units available.  My intuition tells me that there should be some economy in size.  More on that issue in another post perhaps…

U-Haul U-Box Dimensions:
I found that the overall OUTSIDE dimensions of the U-Box were generally those stated in the advertisement.  This includes about 6 inches of feet below the box.  The INTERIOR dimensions of the U-Box were as follows:

Measured Size:    Interior – 4’8” wide x 7’8” deep x 6’9” tall

This is real world – get inside with a tape measure information.  This is not just an estimate.  Now we can tell that the U-Haul advertisement is for exterior dimensions, which has relatively little value to us unless we are trying to evaluate how many will fit in our driveway, not exactly something I am worried about.  But what about the claimed capacity of 300 cubic feet?  Is that accurate?  Capacity is by definition an interior measurement, right?  Calculating the floor area results in an actual square footage of 35.8 square feet.  Multiplying that area by the interior height results in an actual interior capacity of 242 cubic feet.  This means that the 300 cubic foot claim by U-Haul is an overstatement of 24%.  Can I just say WOW!!!  To be fair, U-Haul does note that all sizes are “approximate.”  The 300 cubic foot capacity statement is clearly figured based on external dimensions and I find this to be “approximately” misleading at best.    

How Much Can You Fit In A U-Box?
We see that U-Haul claims that you can fit about a room and a half of household items in a U-Box.  I find these kinds of estimates all over the place and I find them all to be rather worthless.  The fact of the matter is that all these estimates are relative to how big your rooms are, what type of rooms you have and how full you furnish those rooms.  In addition, it depends on how you pack the U-Box which is ultimately a function of the items that are going into it along with the skill with which you pack them in.  For example, if you have floor lamps in your living room and I don’t, I have a much better probability of fitting my living room into a storage container than you do.  It’s just that simple.  Do you have a 12’ X 16’ dining room stuffed with seating for 12 and floor lamps and a bookshelf and a hutch full of expensive china that will be packed in dish barrels?  I challenge you to fit that in a U-Box.  Dining chairs are among the worst items to pack into storage – they take up an amazing amount of space. 
I kind of like the statement that if you got it into your house you can get it into a U-Box and I believe it to be generally true with very few exceptions.  However, getting a single thing into a U-Box is not generally the point.  While an oversize couch may fit in a U-Box you will be challenged to work around it in very tight quarters.  It is unquestionably easier to pack a variety of large things into a single large container than it is to pack those same items into several small containers.
U-Haul U-Box Construction Materials:
As for the construction materials, these boxes are made of and exoskeleton of 2x4 lumber and plywood walls, floors and ceilings.  Other than a few screws holding some of the structure pieces to each other, the vast majority of the fasteners are staples and adhesive.  Around this plywood box is a fairly heavy duty tarp screwed to the top and kept tight with Velcro attachments.  That’s pretty much it.  Imagine trying to build a cheap plywood box storage container and this is pretty much what you would come up with.

Economical to build? Yes. 

Water tight?  Maybe.

Secure?  Velcro… plywood… adhesive… staples… a tarp… Maybe not so much.

Here are some pictures of the U-Haul U-Box portable storage units in Grand Rapids:

Grand Rapids U-Box Dimensions

Grand Rapids U-Box Construction Materials


  1. Thanks, good article

    1. Thank you for taking the time to create this blog! Based on the information I am able to make an informed decision because I ALMOST went with U Haul! I called Ship Smart and they are less than both UHAUL and PODS. Thank you again.

  2. Thanks- very helpful!!

  3. Thanks, I found the same to be true of public storage. At my destination, I was also told that my reservation was not a reservation. All they had was a smaller unit. There I was with a truck to unload and nowhere else to go. Everything fit, with skillful packing and FORCE. Will never do business with PS again. Uhaul has been good, but this is an eye opener and not surprising in this business :-(. More stress for those moving, a big thanks for the info!

    1. You are right that "reservations" are often not what they appear to be. I can tell you from the inside that this is a byproduct of the shopping culture. Many times I have customers commit only to call them later and find out they are going another direction. I now tell people that a deposit will "reserve" their delivery times. Otherwise a "reservation" is just a tentative agreement that might be broken by either side. Its difficult for operators to reserve spots for tire kickers and price shoppers when a fully committed and paying customer calls for the same unit and schedule.

  4. Thank you, Brian! Very helpful article, especially since I am considering using U-Haul U-Box for my upcoming move. I would like to add, though, that U-Haul actually does list all measurements (exterior and interior) in detail on their site:
    But your photos of the U-Boxes are indeed very helpful, as I am trying to figure out whether I would be able to fit the contents of a fully packed 5x6 storage unit into one of these U-Boxes...

    1. I see they have those measurements now. Thank you for sharing that. My measurements are still a little different than what they say.

    2. I appreciate your actual measurements of the interior, as my couch may have been able to to be forced into a 95" space, but definitely not a 92" one. I guess I'll have to go with another option.

  5. I made a move from Red Lion PA to Tampa Fl. I went on U-hauls website to get a quote. When I entered my zip codes the quote was $1306 for 1 u-box. PODS was over $1900.00, (their small container is 8 by 7 by 7 so it is a bit larger). I thought I had a great deal with u-box until I went to place the order. After entering the address for delivery in Red Lion and Tampa, U-Haul added a delivery fee in Red Lion of $455.10, a delivery fee in Tampa of $240.24, a monthly rental of the pod for $69.95, and $25.00 for insurance. That gave me a new total of 2096.26! I couldn't believe that the website would be so misleading. I ended up calling PODS back and using them for my move, and I am glad I did. The agent I spoke to assured me that my price with PODS included everything and that there would not be any surprise charges. He was right. the quote I was given was exactly what I paid to the penny! according to the pods agent, U-Haul only shows the transportation cost from 1 storage place to another. Having them delivered, or adding insurance really increases the price a lot!

  6. Boxes are smaller than you think. Our modest 3-Br apartment took 4 boxes. The idea is good, and the boxes arrived across the country in good condition after a week. However - the people we worked with to reserve the boxes were not well trained...tried to send the boxes a day early, then again a day after we moved and again a month later. I expect this will improve as they get more experience. My biggest complaint was the people U-Haul sent to help unload the boxes at our new home...It took the all day long and we had to repaint the wall in every room they entered. Our new hardwood floors are scuffed and marred.
    If I ever use this service again I will supply the loading and unloading labor.
    Last week U-Haul in Tucson called and said our boxes were ready to pick up (a month after we moved). We paid for everything with AMEX - if U-Haul tries to bill us I will let AMEX handle the error. This is as bad as dealing with the cable company!

  7. I just rented a ubox and had a similar experience. I did substantial research about the costs of moving from the midwest to the east coast. I looked at Pods, renting a uhaul and driving myself, and Uboxes. The Ubox was by far the cheapest option, coming out at about $1,500, and since the site claimed that one Ubox would fit a room and a half I figured it would be perfect. I was moving my bedroom (queen bed, dresser, bookshelf, table) and two arm chairs, and obviously all of the misc. clothes and belongings. Based on the size description, I thought I might even have room to spare.

    However, after packing it extremely efficiently, with literally no room left, it was clear that ONLY the furniture was going to fit. None of the boxes filled with my clothes and other misc. items were going to fit. Just the mattress and box spring took up half the unit!!! So there is absolutely NO WAY that you could expect to fit a room and a half and all of the belongs that come with. Now, I'm stuck shipping all of my belongings via USPS standard post for about $900 because that's far cheaper than renting an additional ubox.

    With the cost of the ubox plus the shipping for what didn't fit, it comes out even with the quote I received for the larger size 8x8x16 Pod at $2,400, which would have saved me a lot of hassle. Keep this size issue in mind if you're interested in the ubox, or you could end of spending way more than you can afford on your move.

  8. Lindsey, Thanks for the input. The 5' x 8' boxes, whether they are UBox, Smart Box, Relocube, MyWay Portable Storage containers or whatever are not appropriate for any reasonable amount of furniture. You have discovered that. They are just too small to be able to pack efficiently. These small UBox and MyWay storage boxes are perfect for someone with a piece of furniture, maybe two, and the rest of their boxed belongings. Anybody that has more than that should consider the large units available from PODS, Zippy Shell, or Pack Rats. Keep in mind that these larger 15' storage containers provide the space of approximately 2.5 of the 5' x 8' boxes. As you have discovered, size does matter.

  9. Because of your comment Brian I decided to go with Pack Rats. I just booked them today and I have to say that a guy named Joey who assisted me gave me the BEST customer service. I highly recommend you contact him at Joey: 855-202-3901 x1064

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