17 Tips and Tricks for Hauling or Carrying Large Items

Updated: Nov. 10, 2023

Save your back, and some time, with these genius tips for hauling heavy items.

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man carrying a blue ladder with a handle
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Easy-Carry Ladder

Ladders aren’t easy to carry. They’re heavy, cumbersome, and you’re likely to pinch your finger if you’re not careful. To remedy this, I attach a drawer handle to the side of my step ladder. Now I can easily carry it around with just one hand.

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man carrying large piece of plywood
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Plywood Handle

Carrying a sheet of plywood by yourself is awkward and hard on your back. The best method I’ve found is to make a loop from an 18-ft. length of rope and wrap it around two corners. Now I can use the rope as a handle. – Ken Porter

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Tips And Tricks For Hauling Or Carrying Large Items Pickup Bed Rack
Family Handyman

Pickup Bed Rack

Here’s a great hold-it-in-place cargo rack for the bed of your pickup. Use either 1x3s or 2x4s, depending on how much weight you’ll need to restrain. Screw the four pieces together to fit just inside the wheel wells, as shown, with ears extending ahead of and behind the wells. Tools, sandbags and other items will stay where you want them. — Gary Coffman.

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two men moving a couch wrapped up in a room with hardwood floors
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Carry Tall Items High and Low

A tall dresser, filing cabinet or shelving unit is awkward to handle. Make it a two-person job. Tip the item backward at an angle and have one person carry the top while the other carries the bottom. This centers the weight and keeps the item from swinging out of control. Transporting the item up or down stairs is easier too, since the carrying angle will roughly match the slope of the stairs.

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two men moving a mattress with a sling
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Make a Mattress Sling

Trying to wrestle a heavy, floppy mattress anywhere is tough. Many mattresses have handles, but they’re not intended for carrying. They’re actually made to help you position the mattress, so they’re not very strong. Here’s an easier way to carry a mattress: Make a simple rope sling that will give you and your helper a lot more control. Thread the rope through the mattress handles. Slip a 5-in. piece of 1-in. PVC pipe over the rope ends and then loop and tie each end to create a comfortable sling grip. Flip the mattress over so the sling is on the bottom and you’re on your way.

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Focused Young Man Assembling Furniture At Home
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Whenever possible, disassemble your furniture to make it easier to transport. Break the items down into the smallest possible components, and wrap delicate or precious furniture in moving blankets to protect against gouges and scratches. And don’t forget the furniture hardware! One of our best packing tips for moving is to put the screws, nuts and bolts into a small bag and tape it to the bottom of each piece. That way you’ll have everything you need to reassemble your furniture upon arrival.

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man strapping in long pieces of lumber into a pick up truck

Stop Wood From Bouncing Out

If you’re hauling a large load of long lumber, don’t rest it on a raised gate—it just can’t handle that kind of weight. Start by laying out two or more ratchet straps along the bottom of the bed and load the longest and heaviest lumber over the straps. Then stack shorter lengths on top. Secure the cab end, the middle and the trailing end with the straps.

Next, anchor the bundle to the truck bed with two ratchet straps. Crisscross the ratchet straps across the load, attaching one end to the cab end anchor rings and the other end to the farthest bundle strap.

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Tips And Tricks For Hauling Or Carrying Large Items Wheelbarrow’s Storage
Family Handyman

Upgrade Your Wheelbarrow’s Storage

The slanted shape of a wheelbarrow makes it perfect for moving dirt and concrete, but square stuff like toolboxes—not so much. As a lead carpenter for a remodeling firm, I was constantly hauling tools back and forth from my truck to the jobsite, twice a day, everyday. On a whim, I built a box that sat on top of my wheelbarrow (which was onsite from start to finish), so I could haul more tools at once. I liked it so much that I brought it to the next job, and the one after that, and the one after that. It’s just a simple plywood box with cleats fastened to the bottom to keep it from slipping off the wheelbarrow. I’ve hauled mountains of stuff with it over the years. – Josh Risberg

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man with yellow gloves moving large piece of concrete by rolling it over PVC pipes
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Roll It!

You’d be amazed how easy it is to move heavy, awkward objects with three pieces of PVC pipe. Move playhouses, yard sheds, empty hot tubs and rocks weighing well over a ton with this trick. Use 4-in.-diameter ‘Schedule 40’ PVC, which is available from home centers. Here’s how to do it:

This technique works best on relatively flat ground. On mild slopes, you’ll need a helper to shift pipes while you stabilize the load. Don’t use this method on steeper slopes.

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man dragging tarp filled with branches
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Tarp Trailer

With a big, cheap plastic tarp you can drag leaves, branches or mulch around your yard.

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large piece of equipment on a pallet
TMB Studio

Pallet Dolly

This simple and inexpensive hauler is perfect for transporting loads of lumber or heavy tools around the workshop. Add a bit of reinforcement to the pallet first; then install four swiveling casters, one at each corner. You’ll wonder why you didn’t make a pallet dolly sooner!

Here’s how to break down a pallet safely.

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Small blue Pool Collecting Trimmings from a bush
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Corral Your Clippings

When trimming hedges, use a plastic kiddie pool to catch clippings, kicking it along as you clip. The clippings fall into the pool, making cleanup a snap. When you’re done trimming, dump the clippings into your mulch pile. Have you considered using a trailer? Here’s what you need to know about dump trailer.

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woman carrying a pile of sticks and branches in an orange carrying sling

Handy Branch Hauler

Need a way to haul branches over to your fire pit? Carrying them in your arms is dirty work and trying to stuff them into a plastic bag is awkward. try using a sturdy plastic shopping bag with handles. Slit the sides, lay it flat, and fill it with branches and small logs. It loads easily and lets you carry wood without getting your clothes full of sap or mud.

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Tips And Tricks For Hauling Or Carrying Large Items Anchor Points Tie Down Rings
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More Anchor Points Are Always Better

Anchor points and tie-down rings are a must for every truck, but when I installed a truck bed toolbox, I lost access to the ones at the front of the bed. I solved this problem by bolting a few anchor rings to the toolbox itself. In addition to strapping down materials and gear, I also use them to chain and padlock my expensive tools. – Gary Wentz

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Trunk Bumpers with pool noodle when hauling things that stick out of your trunk
Family Handyman

Trunk Bumpers

Keep a couple sections of pipe insulation or pool noodles in your trunk to protect both the car’s paint and your oversized cargo.
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man carrying large piece of plywood with special wood carrier
Family Handyman

Solo Plywood Transport

You can easily move 4 x 8-ft. sheets of plywood by your lonesome with this plywood carrier recommended by cabinetmaker Graham McCulloch. It’s a 30-in.-long x 12-in.-wide piece of 1/2-in. plywood with a carrying hook at the end. Make the hook by attaching a 2-in. and a 4-in. piece of 3/4-in. plywood with glue and screws. Cut a handle slot 2 in. down from the other end. This carrier is designed for people of average height. If you’re on the short side, nest your underarm over a sheet of plywood, mark your hand position on the sheet and lengthen the carrier accordingly. You can even use a compact truck bed for carrying plywood.

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man cleaning up leaves in yard with a large tarp bagster
Family handyman

Smarter Leaf Collection

If you have lots of leaves to gather and haul to the compost site, rather than buy and fill a bunch of plastic leaf bags, save lots of time and effort by raking leaves into a Bagster bag. That’s how to get rid of leaves in large loads. Pull the full bag into your trailer, transport the leaves and store the bag for the next season.