1. BigRentz
  2. Think Big Blog
  3. How to Choose a Skid Steer Loader

How to Choose a Skid Steer Loader

How to Choose a Skid Steer Loader

Skid steer loaders are indispensable pieces of equipment in various fields such as construction, agriculture and landscaping. Selecting an effective skid steer loader may seem intimidating at first, but with careful research and understanding of all its key aspects it becomes simpler. In this comprehensive guide we’ll outline how you can choose an optimal loader suited to your particular requirements.

Explore All Skid Steers

Determine Your Needs and Requirements

Before embarking on your selection process, it’s essential to assess your personal needs and requirements when buying or renting a skid steer loader. Consider these important topics.

Project Type

Your project’s type will have a direct effect on which skid steer loader to choose. For instance, construction sites typically need large loaders with ample lifting capacities and powerful engines while smaller, more maneuverable loaders may work best with landscaping endeavors.

Working Environment

Before choosing your skid steer loader, take into consideration its working environment and terrain. Compact track loaders tend to perform best on soft, muddy or difficult surfaces while skid steers with wheels are optimal on flat hard surfaces. Furthermore, taking into consideration job site obstacles could impact which size or maneuverability loader you select.


Skid steer loaders offer more versatility with attachments compatible with their versatility than ever. Make sure your choice can accommodate these attachments when planning projects of this nature.

Frequency of Use

For regular usage of your skid steer loader, purchasing an investment quality machine is key; for occasional projects you might consider rental solutions instead.

Evaluate Skid Steer Loader Sizes

Skid steer loaders come in a wide variety of sizes and rated operating capacities, ranging from compact machines weighing about 1,750 pounds up to larger models weighing more than 2,200 pounds. Each skid steer type is built specifically to handle different tasks on various job sites of various dimensions – it is important when purchasing one that you take this into consideration when making your selection.

Small Frame Skid Steers

Compact skid steers are suitable for small projects in tight spaces, including demolition work inside buildings or urban job sites with limited space. These machines typically boast under 50 horsepower for light to medium duty tasks.

Medium Framed Skid Steers

Medium skid steers offer slightly more power than their compact counterparts, giving them the capacity to perform intensive tasks such as indoor demolition or lifting heavier items with greater ease. They typically range between 50 and 70 horsepower yet remain maneuverable even in tight spaces.

Large Framed Skid Steers

Large skid steer loaders are designed for more demanding tasks and can lift objects that would strain smaller loaders. Boasting more than 70 horsepower, large skid steers make an ideal tool for large projects such as road construction or land excavation.

Compare Radial and Vertical Lift Types

Skid steer loaders come equipped with either radial or vertical lift types, each of which offers its own set of advantages and drawbacks.

Radial Lift

kubota ssv 75 radial lift

Radial lift skid steers have an efficient design ideal for tasks close to the ground such as digging holes or landscaping. Due to having few moving parts and less potential damage from working with heavy attachments like rock saws.

Vertical Lift

bobcat s650 vertical lift

Vertical lift skid steers offer easier access to out-of-the-way spaces while boasting greater reach at midpoint than their radial counterparts, making these machines perfect for tasks such as lifting pallets off trucks and transporting them elsewhere, working at eye level or above, or working from high locations.

Examine Control Options

Modern skid steer loaders feature multiple control options, from joystick controls to traditional lever and pedal controls. As each control option offers its own advantages and preferences among operators, selecting one with controls that feel natural is key in finding an appropriate skid steer loader solution for yourself and employees alike.

Consider Track vs. Wheel Options

Consider whether a compact track loader or wheeled skid steer would better meet your needs when selecting a skid steer loader.

Compact Track Loaders

Compact track loaders are specifically engineered to operate on challenging surfaces like rocky ground, soft mud and snow. Their tracks offer greater traction and flotation than wheels allowing for optimal use across various terrains and climate conditions.

Wheeled Skid Steers

Wheeled skid steers work best on flat, hard surfaces but may struggle with more challenging terrains. Their maintenance costs tend to be less costly and are therefore better suited to hard, flat ground.

Assess Lift Capacity and Height

Lift capacity and height are crucial considerations in selecting a skid steer loader, as these characteristics determine its capability to meet specific tasks. When shopping around for one, ensure it has adequate lifting capacities to suit any jobs you intend on tackling.

Evaluate Engine Power and Hydraulic Performance

Engine power and hydraulic performance of a skid steer loader are crucial elements to its successful use, operating various attachments efficiently, and performing tasks successfully. Make sure the loader you select provides adequate engine and hydraulic performance capacity according to your specific requirements.

Consider Brand and Dealership Support

When purchasing a skid steer loader, it’s essential to consider both manufacturer and dealership support when making your selection. Reputable brands such as John Deere or Bobcat with outstanding customer support, product reliability, and swift shipping of parts are crucial in providing an enjoyable ownership experience.

Inspect Used or Rental Skid Steer Loaders

Whether purchasing used construction equipment or renting one for use, always conduct a full examination to make sure it’s in good working condition and look out for signs of wear, hydraulic flow issues and any potential issues which might affect its performance.


Download our FREE skid steer rental guide e-book today!

Research Financing and Pricing Options

As part of your selection process for a skid steer loader, consider your financing and pricing options when making your selection. Most dealerships provide lease agreements, financing packages or rental contracts tailored to meet both budgetary constraints and needs.

At its core, selecting an effective skid steer loader requires considering your individual needs, working environment and desired features carefully. By following this comprehensive guide you will have all of the tools necessary to select an efficient and productive machine for your projects.

While the variety of skid steers can make choosing the right one confusing, considering your job and job site carefully can help you make the right decision. If you’re still not sure which skid steer is best for you, BigRentz can help. We have a variety of high-quality skid steers for rent which can help you tackle jobs big and small. Our rental logistics advisors can help you choose the best skid steer and attachments for your needs for an affordable daily, weekly, or monthly fee.

Explore All Skid Steers

Get the latest from the Think Big Blog delivered to your inbox.

Equipment Rental Guides

Download any of our free rental guides and learn how to pick the right equipment to fit your project needs.