Tricon container is one of the most versatile containers used in shipping. Read on to know what the Tricon shipping container is, its uses, benefits, and how to choose the right one for your needs. 

Shipping containers are the cornerstone of global trade. Since the transportation of goods is dependent on containers, shippers and freight-forwarders are always looking for suitable containers for their cargo. 

The 20ft and 40ft containers are two of the most widely used standardized containers worldwide. However, these popular options might not always be the best option for a smaller volume of goods, sensitive freight, and fast transportation. For requirements like these, Tricon containers become the go-to choice. 

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What is a Tricon shipping container?

Size difference between a 20ft container and a Tricon container

A Tricon container is a mini shipping container that is one-third the size of a standard 20ft container. They’re usually 6ft or 6.5ft / 1.82m or 1.98m  long, 8 ft / 2.43m wide, and 8 ft / 2.43m high. When placed together, the footprint of three containers is equivalent to that of a 20ft ISO container. Therefore, you may not find a single unit of Tricon container used commonly. Instead, three containers become a set, meeting the criteria for intermodal transportation. As a result, Tricon shipping containers are easily shipped as both specialty and standardized containers without any hassles.

Tricon container dimensions (ft / m) 
Length  6’-6.5’ ft / 1.82-1.98m 
Height  8’ ft / 2.43m
Width  8’ ft / 2.43m

3 characteristics and benefits of Tricon containers

Tricon containers are durable, versatile, and easy to handle, making them a good option for small shipments. Read on to find out about these benefits in detail.

Smaller size that’s easier to ship

Size of a Tricon Container

The biggest advantage of a Tricon container is its unique size itself. Shippers with low-volume shipments don’t always need the entire space of the container and end up sharing it with other cargo. In such a Less than Container Load (LCL) arrangement, the goods aren’t secure. They’re also prone to delay and damage because they often get loaded and unloaded from the containers. 

A Tricon shipping container is suitable for small shipments that need secure and fast shipping. These portable containers increase the shipping efficiency, as they can be transported by standard means and easily separated at their destination. 

Refer to this chart to know the capacity of a standard Tricon container.

Tricon container capacity 
Cubical Volume 356 cu. ft / 10 m³
Gross Weight  14,900 lbs / 6759 kg
Payload  12,100 lbs / 5488 kg
Tare Weight 2,800 lbs / 1270 kg 

Designed for safety and complies with strict regulations

Sensitive freight requires additional safety. The Tricon containers, made out of corrugated steel, are designed to provide extra security to the cargo. Depending on the needs of the shipper and the nature of the cargo, container manufacturers can include custom features and equipment integrations to the container. 

For instance, a container transporting weapons will have a weapons storage rack, cabinets, drawers, and a high-security lockbox. Such features safeguard against any tampering or break-ins during transportation.

And even though the container type is not ISO certified, it comes with connecting couplers on sides that help them configure into a package suitable for the intermodal journey. Hence, the Tricon container complies with all the strict regulations just as any other ISO-approved container would. 

Designed for versatile deployability

Another great advantage of using Tricon containers is their versatile deployability. By now, we already know that the container can transport through ocean, ground, and air. But what’s exciting about Tricon containers is that their small size and gross weight allow deployment almost anywhere.

In urgent operations, Tricon containers, weighing less than 10,000 lbs / 4536 kg, can be easily carried by heavy-lift helicopters to otherwise inaccessible terrains. Consequently, the primary user of Tricon containers is the US Armed forces. Scroll down to learn how the military uses these containers.

3 common uses for Tricon containers

These containers are widely used by different industries for their unique features and multi-purpose applications. Scroll down for some of the most common uses of Tricon containers.  

Uses of Tricon Container

Military materials that have strict requirements

The military extensively uses Tricon containers for its ease of handling and rapid deployment. Almost all the branches of the military use these containers to store and transport weapons securely while also saving time and conserving space. 

The weapons storage racks mounted on the interiors of the containers store all types of weapons, optics, ammunition, and tactical and communication gears. Moreover, the military also uses Tricon containers to transport supplies and food for further distribution in combat zones.

Small batch shipments that need to be refrigerated

The refrigerated Tricon containers, also known as Tricon reefers, are convenient for shipping food and other goods requiring refrigeration. Only single units are used as a fridge or freezer because such reefers can only maintain a single temperature. 

Since the military is also the primary user of Tricon reefers, these units are intended for use in potentially explosive environments. Most of these containers comply with Zone 2, Group IIA Hazardous Locations, which guarantees protection against atmospheres with air mixture of hazardous gasses, vapors, mists, or dust. 

In addition to food, refrigerated Tricon containers also ship temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals.

Temporary office module 

Apart from storing and transporting goods, Tricon containers are also utilized as office modules. The lightweight and ease of portability are the two reasons why law enforcement agencies, emergency response teams, and many other commercial industries use these containers as temporary set-ups. Some of the applications include concession stands, guard shacks, telecommunication shelters, scientific research, and much more.

How to choose the right Tricon container

Selecting the correct container for your cargo is a major logistical decision — vital for your business growth. Since Tricon containers are a popular choice for transporting materials and products, choosing the right one should be easy. 

An important factor to consider while selecting a Tricon container is how you plan to load and unload your cargo.  Accordingly, there are five types of Tricon containers with different door configurations.

Types of Tricon containers 
Type 1 Double doors on one side
Type 2 Double doors on both sides
Type 3 Double doors on both ends and one side
Type 4 Doors on each end and each side
Type 5 Double doors on both ends 

We also know that Tricon containers can get customized for specialty shipments from various industries. Hence, make sure to buy or get your Tricon container customized according to your requirements of racks, decking and shoring beams, and connecting couplers, among other features.

Find the right container using xChange

If you’re still not sure about what container type suits your cargo, we offer you a one-stop platform to find, lease, and buy the ideal type without paying any commission.

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Tricon Container

Tricon containers: Common FAQs

How much does a tricon container weigh?

A standard empty Tricon container weighs around 2,800 lbs / 1270 kg. And, the gross weight of the container, which also includes the weight of the cargo, is around 14,900 lbs / 6759 kg.

How much does a tricon container cost?

Tricon containers are usually sold in a set of three or more units. A set of three is averagely priced at $3,600.

When should I use a tricon container?

A Tricon container carries small-batch shipments that need secure and quick transportation. These containers are mainly used to transport weapons, food, and pharmaceuticals, among other goods.

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