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Pickup trucks come in many shapes and sizes, from compact to heavy-duty, four-door, and long-bed configurations. Likewise, powertrains range from efficient battery electric to large-displacement ground-pounding diesel. You can get two- or four-wheel drivetrains and front- or rear-wheel drive, but what is a dually truck? And what is the point of a dually?

What is a dually pickup truck?

2023 Ford Super Duty dually towing trailer
2023 Ford Super Duty | Ford

A dually, dualie, or dual-rear-wheel (DRW) is a pickup truck with an extra tire on each side of the rear axle. Instead of having four tires on the ground like a regular single-rear-wheel (SRW) truck, a dually has six. Its most distinctive features are the extra-wide rear fenders extending from the truck bed.

What is the point of a dually truck?

Duallies have more carrying capacity than regular pickups. The extra set of tires carries more weight, adding to the truck’s payload capacity. In addition, the extra traction adds to the truck’s towing capacity with increased lateral stability and braking power. Also, the additional payload capacity helps the vehicle handle heavier trailers with higher pin or tongue weights. 

Is a dually a 1-ton truck? 

2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Dually pulling a big travel trailer
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Dually | GMC

Duallies are often classified as one-ton trucks, but they typically have payload capacities exceeding 2,000 pounds. For reference, a 2024 Ram 3500 dually, classified as a one-ton truck, has a payload capacity of 7,680 pounds. Although that payload exceeds 3.5 tons, it includes everything added to the vehicle, such as passengers, extra tools, and fuel. Keep in mind that one-ton trucks also come in SRW configurations. 

Dually towing capacity vs. regular trucks

Comparing the towing capacities of one-ton DRWs versus one-ton SRWs has the dually winning every matchup. Take, for example, the towing capacities of the DRW and SRW Ford F-350, the Blue Oval’s one-ton pickup. The diesel-powered F-350 with single rear wheels has a tow rating of 18,000 pounds. However, the same powertrain in an F-350 with dual rear wheels is rated for 21,000 pounds. 

What company makes the best dually trucks?

Debating which brand makes the best dually truck is a volatile topic. Most people have a favorite brand, regardless of the specs. After all, numbers don’t paint a comprehensive picture of a vehicle. Still, if you’re open to change, here are their maximum payload and towing capacities to support our rankings:

  1. Ram 3500: 7,680 pounds payload, 37,090 pounds towing
  2. Ford F-350: 8,000 pounds payload, 32,500 pounds towing
  3. Chevy Silverado 3500: 7,234 pounds payload, 36,000 pounds towing
  4. GMC Sierra 3500: 6,374 pounds payload, 30,990 pounds towing 

The Ram 3500 dually is the best choice based on maximum towing capacity. However, the Ford F-350 dually has a higher payload capacity. The close competition led MotorTrend to rank the Ram and Ford first and second in its heavy-duty dually truck rankings. We agree, but considering those capacity figures alone, we place the Silverado 3500 above its corporate cousin, the Sierra 3500.

What are the drawbacks of duallies?

Though DRW pickups will likely meet your needs when hauling building supplies, boats, and campers, consider these downsides:

  • Duallies are wider and more challenging to maneuver in tight spaces than SRW models. 
  • Six tires cost more to maintain than four. 
  • Dually trucks could pose a higher risk of hydroplaning on wet pavement. 
  • Some states could require additional registration requirements and fees.

Before purchasing a heavy-duty DRW pickup, ensure it’s what you need. A truck that exceeds your necessities is always better, but an SRW truck might be a wiser option.