Pickup truck terminology can be confusing. For starters, each manufacturer has created their own naming system for their model lines. Then, they also have their own names for truck bed styles. Understanding industry lingo will help you determine which truck or truck accessory is best for you. When it comes to truck beds there are two basic designs: short bed and long bed as well as two different styles standard bed and stepside bed. Each truck comes in a combination of one of the designs and one of the styles. An example would be, a truck could have a stepside style short bed, however, it’s worth noting that stepside style long beds have not been around since the 1950’s. We’ve created this guide to help you research and understand the four different styles so you can make sure you are getting the right truck or truck accessories for you.
The short bed is by far the most popular type of pickup truck bed and is sometimes referred to as a short box. Compact truck short beds are generally 6 ft (1.8 m) long and full-size beds are generally 6.5 ft (2.0 m) long. These beds offer significant load-hauling capabilities but are not so long that they would be difficult to drive or park.
The long bed is usually a foot or two longer than the short bed and is more popular on trucks such as commercial work trucks or farm trucks. The long bed style is sometimes referred to as a long box. Compact long beds are generally 7 ft (2.1 m) long and full-size long beds are generally 8 ft (2.4 m) long. Full-size long beds offer the advantage of carrying a standard-size 4 ft×8 ft sheet of plywood with the tailgate closed adding versatility for people using the truck for construction on contract work. In the United States and Canada, long beds are not very popular on compact trucks because of the easy availability of full-size pickup trucks.
These are also known as a Styleside or Fleetside bed. Available in many sizes, the standard bed features fender wells on the inside of the truck bed. This allows more cargo volume inside the truck bed as the bed extends over the wheel wells instead of stopping at them. So, instead of protruding fender wells, the outside of the truck bed walls are smooth and line up with the edge of the wheel wells. Since the bed walls are smooth, standard beds tend to be a bit more aerodynamic.
This style of truck bed is also known as Flareside or Sportside. With this style of truck bed, the fender wells bulge toward the outside of the truck bed. The “step” in stepside refers to the built-in step between the cab and protruding fender well where there would otherwise be a narrow, empty space. This step allows for easy step-up access to the back of the truck bed making it easier to move thing around at the front of the truck bed.
Pickup trucks were commonly equipped with stepside beds until the 1950s when Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler introduced smooth-side pickup beds as expensive, low-production options. Most manufacturers followed and switched to a straight bed, which offers slightly more interior space than stepside beds, and due to better aerodynamics, tend to produce less wind noise at highway speeds. Stepside beds do have the added advantage of a completely rectangular interior in most cases, although most modern trucks with a stepside beds are that way purely for styling. Thus the main difference between standard and stepside truck beds comes down to cosmetics however, they are actually quite important when it comes to assessing your cargo hauling capabilities and storage needs. The differences also factor in when searching for truck