Compact track loaders and skid steers serve similar purposes. They’re both incredibly versatile and can perform a wide range of tasks, including excavating, digging, trenching, backfilling, paving, demolition, landscaping, grinding stumps, and more. But the different machines have different strengths and weaknesses. Here’s how to choose between compact track loaders and skid steers.
Consider the Terrain
The main difference between skid steers and compact track loaders is how they move. While skid steers have wheels, track loaders run on tracks. Because of their wheels, skid steers tend to perform best on hard, flat surfaces like concrete, asphalt, pavement, or rocks. Compact track loaders, on the other hand, can perform well on undeveloped ground and uneven terrain. In fact, because their tracks evenly distribute weight, they’re a better choice for job sites with sand, mud, or slippery surfaces.
Consider Your Job Site
Your job site matters when it comes to deciding between a skid steer and a compact track loader. Because of their wheels, skid steers can make sharp turns, effectively rotating in place. That makes them much easier to maneuver if your job site is crowded or limited in space. While track loaders have similar turning capabilities, they may not perform as well in tight spaces because of their large size. Three-point turns are also recommended when turning around in a compact track loader, as this can prevent costly wear and tear.
Consider Site Cleanup
When it comes to site cleanup, compact track loaders are much gentler on soil, sand, and gravel. That said, the tracks can mark up and damage asphalt and concrete. That’s why skid steers make more sense on hard surfaces and track loaders make more sense on soft terrain.
Consider the Job
When it comes to heavy duty jobs, compact track loaders have some appeal. In fact, skid steers have a higher center of gravity, a lower weight capacity, and their wheels don’t have as much traction, which can make pushing high-resistance materials a real challenge. Track loaders, on the other hand, run on tracks, which facilitates better traction, more stability, and a higher lifting capacity.
Consider Your Timeline
If you’re on a tight timeline and looking for a fast-moving machine, a skid steer might be right for you. Not only are they more lightweight than compact track loaders, but their wheels allow them to move faster and maneuver better than the slow-moving tracks on a track loader.
Consider Your Budget
If you’re working with a small budget, it should be said that skid steers are the more affordable option. Not only are they less expensive to purchase, but they have lower fuel and transportation costs, require less frequent maintenance, and are easier to clean and maintain. That said, if you’re using a skid steer on uneven terrain, the extra time and potential damage could end up being costlier than purchasing a track loader.