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Boxes vs. Totes – Which Is Better?

Boxes vs. Totes feature image
Are you planning to move? Clean out the basement? Organize the garage? Whatever your reason, you will be packing things up to place into your self storage unit. So you ask yourself, “Boxes or totes, which is better for me?”

To make this easier for you, we have listed out the pros and cons of each to help you decide. In some cases boxes make more sense, and in other cases using totes would be more beneficial.

Moving boxes come in many sizes, shapes and types. We sell a large variety in our retail shops inside our rental offices from which you can choose. Here are some things to consider when choosing moving boxes for your storage needs:

QUALITY

Moving Box

The boxes we sell in our retail shops are designed and produced specifically for the self storage industry. They are made of high-quality materials that will last over time and are crush resistant. This means you can stack them up and they will not bend, crush or sag when stored over months and even years inside a storage unit. Our boxes are also specially coated to resist mold and mildew, which will keep the contents from unwanted moisture damage during the changing seasons.

VARIETY OF SIZES

We offer many sizes of boxes to choose from and they are labeled with what items would work best when packed inside.

Stacked Moving BoxesSmall Boxes are perfect for heavy items like book, DVDs and video games – stuff that is small but can quickly become heavy when packed in large boxes. This will help make sure you don’t pack too many in one box and strain your back when lifting and moving.

Medium Boxes work great for towels, linens and photo albums. These are things you can pack more of in one box without the worry of making the box too heavy for safe lifting.

Large Boxes are a good fit for clothing, small kitchen appliances and gadgets and holiday decorations. These items can be awkward shapes and sizes and will easily fit into our large boxes so you can store them safely.

Extra Large Boxes are the best choice for quilts, pillows, shoes, Tupperware and other food storage containers.

Specialty Item Boxes are also available for those hard to pack items like mirrors, lamps, dish sets, microwaves and TVs. They are designed to fit the odd shape and sizes of these items and help prevent damage when moving and storing. We even have wardrobe boxes where you can store delicate clothing on hangers like your leather jacket, evening dresses and silk blouses – all items that are hard to fold and do better when hung up.

You can also read one of our previous blogs, “Are All Boxes Created Equal?” to help you decide which boxes to purchase and use for your storage needs.

Now let’s talk about storage totes. Don’t get me wrong, storage totes can be handy. There are even a few instances where choosing a tote over a box makes more sense. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on storage totes:

Storage TotesSHAPE

Since totes are not perfect squares, they do not stack very well. The bottom of the tote is smaller than the top, leaving the weight in the center of the lid beneath it. After a while, that lid may start to cave in – putting the weight of the top tote directly onto the items inside the bottom tote. This could cause damage to your items inside the tote. Over time, your stack of totes could eventually collapse and fall over as well – again causing damage to the items inside, and even the items inside your storage unit where they may fall.

When stacked up, large gaps exist between each of them due to their odd shape. This wastes precious storage space, compared to using boxes which leave no gaps when stacked together.

Because they are not perfect squares, things like movies, books or photo albums are harder to pack inside without the risk of bending or damaging them – unless you use packing paper and the sort to fill in the gaps. This also wastes packing space compared to boxes.

VARIETY OF SIZES

Storage totes do come in a variety of different sizes, from a small shoe box all the way up to 45 gallons and larger. So, finding the right size to fit your need shouldn’t be a problem.

Often times though, with something this large we get overzealous and pack as much as we can fit in there without thinking of the weight. Then we go to lift it and it’s practically impossible with one person, and difficult even with two people. It’s best to stick with small to medium sized totes for most items, and only use the very large ones for lighter items like pillows and decorations.

CONVENIENCE

Most of us have a few totes in our house already. Let’s face it, at some point over time we have all purchased one on sale for something! If this is the case, you can re-purpose them for storage. They are perfect for items like extra pillows, blankets and stuffed animals – all things that will conform to the shape of the tote.

Storage BinsHANDLES

Depending on the type of tote you have or are planning to purchase, the handles can sometimes be more difficult than you may realize. This is something you will want to check into before packing items into a storage tote. There are many out there where the handles are defined and make the tote very easy to carry. Then there are others that the handle seems to be an afterthought and it hurts your hands when you pick it up.

Now that we have gone over the pros and cons of boxes and storage totes, there are just a few more items to keep in mind when making your decision. If your self storage situation is only temporary, boxes may be the better option. They can be flattened and stored easily for later use, taking up little space. Storage totes are what they are; they cannot be flattened and will take up the same space whether empty or full. However, if you have several of the same brand and size, they can nest inside one another and take up less space that way. But, if you have many different brands and sizes, they may not stack together nicely. Just something to think about before you make your choice.

Depending on your needs and preference, you may choose one or the other. There is no wrong or right answer here. If you would like more help in deciding which to use for your self storage needs, you can reach out to our property manager and she will be glad to assist you. You can also leave a comment below or contact us at any time.