skid steer loader vs. track loader

One of the most common questions our customers ask us is, “What’s the difference between skid steer loaders and track loaders, and which one should I rent for my upcoming job.” The right answer depends on factors such as the job-site ground conditions, weather forecast, and the type of work you will be doing.

The compact track loader is the more versatile of the two machines with its ability to work on just about any terrain, including mud, snow, clay, dirt, and sand, as well as inclines and uneven ground. It’s their superior traction and greater ground contact that sets them apart from their skid steer cousins. The tracks also create a smaller “footprint,” which makes them ideal for situations where surrounding areas need not be disturbed, like golf course work and certain landscaping applications.

On the flip side of the coin, a skid steer loader with tires can maneuver over sharp rocks that could potentially damage a track loader’s tracks and sprockets. They also perform and handle better than track loaders when on solid, even ground like cement, asphalt, or compacted dirt. Another bonus is their cheaper maintenance costs. Not only are tires less expensive than replacement tracks, but they also last longer.

Skid Steer Loader Facts

  • Skid Steers work best on firm surfaces like concrete or asphalt.
  • Skid Steers usually weigh less than compact track loaders making them easier to transport.
  • Skid Steers need extra room to turn about.
  • Skid Steer tires are cheaper to replace than tracks with no need to worry about ancillary parts like sprockets.
  • Skid Steers work best in normal weather conditions.

Track Loader Facts

  • Track Loaders can make quicker turns than skid steers.
  • Track Loaders work better on uneven terrain and slopes.
  • Track Loaders offer minimal ground disturbance as weight is distributed more evenly, providing a smoother ride.
  • Track loaders are not seasonal machines as they work well in the snow and rain (muddy and icy conditions) with their superior traction.
  • Replacement tracks are expensive.

And the answer is……

Both types of loaders tackle the same tasks and accept the same buckets and attachments, so the main thing to keep in mind when deciding between the two is the ground conditions you will be working with and the weather. If you’re still unsure of which machine is right for your next job, give one of our knowledgeable rental coordinators a call, and they’ll be happy to recommend the ideal machine. Call 1-800-DURANTE or learn more on our skid steer track loader rental page.