What’s the Difference Between a Pallet, a Base, and a Skid?

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What’s the Difference Between a Pallet, a Base, and a Skid?

In custom industrial packaging there are three type of bases for items that are being packaged. Each one has a slightly different use and it’s important to understand how they differ. This terminology can be useful for specifying the type of packaging that is best for your machinery or other item.


Pallets are the most standard type of base for an item in transport. They are lightweight and ubiquitous, and are very easily used for most lightweight items. Pallets are distinguished by having decks on the top and bottom. Standard pallets are 40” x 48” and are built for forklift use. Because of the top and bottom deck, they are sturdy and they are good for dragging. Pallets are most often made from wood, but can just as easily be made from a composite material or from plastic.

A large, custom built pallet


Skids are generally heavy-duty and are defined by having just a top deck, with no bottom deck. There is no standard size for skids – generally they are custom built for specific products or machinery. Because there is not bottom deck, skids are harder to drag. Often, heavy machinery is installed on a skid so that it can be more easily lifted when it needs to be moved. Skids can be very large and can “live” under machinery for years, in anticipation of it needing to be moved.

A simple, custom skid
A very large custom-built skid.


Bases operate in a similar way to skids and pallets but, as the name suggests, they are generally used as a base for a crate. For this reason, they might be built a little differently in order to take sides, for instance with a “lip” extending from the bottom deck in order to provide structural integrity for the sides. Bases are similar to skids, but can often be built lighter because the sides and top will provide extra stability for the base.

Simple crate base.
A base being used for a custom crate for a motorcycle.

Deciding Between a Pallet, Skid or Base

If you’re wondering whether a base, skid or pallet is best for your item, you may consider the weight, the item’s fragility, and the transportation needs (does it need a whole crate? Or will it suffice to simply brace the item to a pallet? How is it being transported? How often will it need to be moved?). Pallets are usually the most cost-effective, but they provide the least protection.

Get in touch with us to discuss different packaging solutions for your item. We’re in the business of custom crate and packaging design and we can manufacture the perfect packaging solution for your item.