Choosing Small Equipment: Skid Steer or Compact Loader

Which machines are right for your construction company? Choosing small heavy equipment can be challenging. This is especially true when deciding between skid steers and compact track loaders, both of which offer versatility and are highly manoeuvrable. Here’s what to consider when deciding which machine will meet your needs:


You should consider ground conditions when choosing. Compact track loaders have rubber tracks, which make them ideal on soft terrain like clay, mud, or sand. The tires of the skid steer are a better choice if you’re working on hard surfaces such as concrete, gravel, or asphalt. Skid steers are also a better choice if you’re consistently working in gravel, because sharp-edged stones will affect the life of the tracks on a compact track loader.

Type of work

There’s no difference when it comes to the kind of work you can do with skid steers and compact track loaders. Both types of machine are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications, including

In addition,
attachments are interchangeable between the two types of machines. Some of the most commonly used attachments are:

  • Broom

  • Bucket

  • Auger

  • Snow blade

  • Mulcher

  • Hammer

Ground disturbance

Sometimes it’s important to keep ground disturbance to a minimum. For these projects, you’ll want to choose a compact track loader.

Operator comfort

Compact track loaders generally give operators a smoother ride and more stability, making it more comfortable to work. Comfortable workers are more productive and less likely to get tired, which can lead to expensive errors.

Maintenance budget

Replacing tires costs less than replacing tracks. However, the tracks on compact track loaders tend to last longer than the tires on skid steers if the tracks are maintained and the loader is always used in the right application. Overall, though, skid steers are less expensive to buy and require less maintenance than compact track loaders.

Skid steers and compact track loaders are key pieces of small heavy equipment for any contractor. Talk to us about your needs, and we’ll help you choose the right machine for your budget.

Finning is the world's largest Caterpillar dealer, selling, renting and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers across diverse industries, including mining, construction, petroleum, forestry and a wide range of power systems applications. We operate in Western Canada, South America, and UK and Ireland.