Packing Tips: Protecting Packages from Shipping Hazards

Packages will face a myriad of potential hazards between the time they leave your warehouse and when they reach your customer’s doorstep. Proper packing is the first step in ensuring that your packages are successfully delivered. Prevent breakage and damage by packing shipments in sturdy boxes with sufficient packing materials.

It’s also a good idea to purchase insurance and delivery confirmation for shipments containing high value or fragile items to verify their delivery and ensure payment in the instance that a package is damaged or lost during transit. Keep in mind that insurance will only cover packages that have been properly packed.

Be sure that you’ve prepared for the following hazards:

  • Dropping and compression
  • Vibration and air pressure
  • Temperature and humidity

Dropping and compression:

Packages will fall, and often from heights of 6 feet or more. They will also be stacked and jostled. The exterior box needs to be able to hold up to the impact and be sealed sufficiently to prevent the package from opening. Quality cushion materials will absorb any additional stresses that would otherwise collide with your products.

What to do:
  • Use a heavy duty cardboard box.
    • For larger and/or heavier packages: two ply cardboard is recommended. Better yet, check the weight and crush limits for the box you’re using, included with the “Shipping Seal of Approval” or box certificate on the bottom flap of the box.
    • For small and/or lightweight shipments: keep in mind that the package is not shipping in isolation. If a heavier package is placed on top, the box needs to be able to support that parcel, too.
    • For fragile and breakable items: use a double box method, with 2”-3” of cushioning between the two boxes, as well as surrounding the inner contents.
  • Employ quality cushioning.
    • Lightweight and sturdy packing materials, such as packing peanuts, bubble wrap, and inflatables, provide protection without unnecessarily raising shipping costs.
    • Take care to not overpack, as this can also damage products through compression. If you have to force contents into the box or the sides are bulging, it’s overpacked.
  • Apply strong adhesive tape:
    • Seal the box closed with quality tape to prevent the box from opening. Use at least three pieces of 2” tape, in an H pattern.
    • For heavy packages: if you are unsure that tape alone is sufficient, use bands for added protection.

Vibration and air pressure:

Processing equipment, such as conveyor belts and vehicles, will vibrate packages. Elevation changes due to air transport or ground shipments from low to high elevation will result in pressure changes. Both factors can cause containers to open or burst and parts to come unplugged. Vibrations may also cause edges and soft materials to rub and erode. Any spilled contents pose a threat to other package contents, the integrity of packing materials, as well as other packages.

What to do:
  • Choose cushioning with enough density or staying power to keep items from shifting.
  • Bind printed material together.
  • Provide extra protection along edges and corners. Wrap and tape all sharp or protruding edges.
  • Wrap bottles and jars in plastic wrap or tape around the lids to prevent spills in case the lid comes loose.

Temperature and humidity:

Weather, season, geography, and mode of transport impose a range of temperature conditions and changes in humidity. Both temperature and humidity can destabilize some products. Humidity also has a tendency to breakdown boxes. Proper packaging can minimize the impact of external factors.

What to do:
  • When shipping to humid climates or if your contents are particularly sensitive to changes in humidity, include non-toxic drying agent desiccants such as small silicon gel packs inside the cartons.
  • Any item that could be affected by rain – i.e. paper, books, clothing - should be wrapped in plastic before packing.
  • Perishable mail is subject to it’s own specific requirements, depending on the specific item. For more information, take a look at our perishable mail guide.

Learn more about recommended packing materials.



Related articles:

How to: Set up insurance defaults for my shipments
What is Shipsurance?
Best Practices: Protect your shipments + ensure delivery
Shipping Tips


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