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When to Rent a Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader 

Choosing the right piece of earthmoving equipment can be challenging since you need to consider so many different factors. Both skid steer and compact track loaders (CTLs) provide several benefits that can serve all kinds of projects, so one of these machines may be just what you need to get the job done.

Learn more about the differences between the two and when to rent a skid steer or a CTL from the experts at Ohio CAT — The Cat® Rental Store.

Why You Should Rent a Skid Steer

Renting a skid steer offers numerous benefits. Skid steers are incredibly easy to customize, so you can adjust many of their features to best fit the needs of any project. A few of the most popular attachments for skid steer loaders include:

  • Buckets
  • Augers
  • Snowplows
  • Backhoes
  • Cement mixers
  • Pallet forks

This machine gets its name from the method the operator uses to steer it. Like many other vehicles, a wheeled skid steer has two wheels mounted in a straight line on each side of its body, but their function is unusual because they don’t pivot. Rather, the operator speeds or slows each set independently, causing the wheels that aren’t receiving power to skid along the ground.

Wheeled skid steers are great for solid, even surfaces that aren’t likely to suffer damage from their skidding movement. Further, they often move quicker than CTLs, making them ideal for projects where you need to cover a lot of ground or those with strict deadlines.

If you’re working in an urban area or on a work site where the ground condition isn’t critical, the speed and maneuverability of a wheeled skid steer may be just what you need. Understanding your project requirements can help you better understand when to rent a skid steer over other construction equipment.

Why You Should Rent a Compact Track Loader

Like skid steers, compact track loaders are great tools that you can adjust to accommodate every project you need. Also known as track skid steers due to the similarity between the two machines, compact track loaders offer exceptional traction and function in more specialized situations.

Rather than wheels, compact track loaders operate on a sturdy undercarriage equipped with tracks. As a result, they have a very low center of gravity, making them stable and dependable tools for transporting heavy materials, particularly across rugged terrain. With a compact track loader, you can easily navigate uneven or sloping ground. Further, the tracks more evenly distribute the machine’s weight and provide excellent traction, allowing it to traverse mud, sand and other challenging surfaces where a wheeled skid steer might get stuck.

Because every project has different needs, you can choose loader equipment with varying track widths and types to suit your work. Narrow tracks have better traction for slick surfaces, while wide tracks excel on sloped or uneven terrain. On jobs with harsh conditions, such as demolition sites, you might choose rugged steel tracks for their durability. Where the ground is more sensitive, however, like a landscaped property, a loader with rubber tracks (known as a multi terrain loader) lets you work with minimal surface damage.

Like a skid steer loader, you can further customize your compact track loader by adding a variety of attachments to the front to make a more specialized machine that fits your project and its specific needs. Some attachment options include:

  • Buckets
  • Mulchers
  • Saws
  • Rakes
  • Tillers
  • Trenchers

After determining your project’s timeline and weather and terrain restrictions, you will know when to rent a compact track loader. Because of its versatility and ability to perform in many conditions, you can rely on a compact track loader to help you do your best work any time of year.

Choosing by Job Site Needs

When determining whether to rent a skid steer or a compact track loader, you should consider the needs and limitations of your job site. Because skid steers and CTLs can both cover several functions with their many attachments, you might have to look beyond the specifics of the task itself and make the decision based on your location and work environment. When choosing between skid steers and compact track loaders, consider:

  • Timeline: Winter weather like snow and ice can place limitations on your timeline. If you have a larger project that will take more time to complete, renting a compact track loader can help you finish on schedule. Because a compact track loader can maintain better traction in snow, ice and other slippery conditions, you can continue working even when the weather presents an obstacle to other equipment.
  • Terrain: Before renting your equipment, consider the physical environment your machine will need to navigate. If your work site is paved or on a flat, compacted surface, you can take advantage of the speed and maneuverability of a skid steer to work quickly. However, if you are working on a landscaping project that needs to preserve the current state of the ground, a multi terrain loader with rubber tracks will help you maintain the integrity of the site.
  • Accessibility: Both machines come in various sizes so you can choose a model with enough power and capacity for your project, but you should also consider the size of your construction area. Wheeled skid steers are a clear winner for quickly traversing large job sites. They can also turn around virtually on the spot, making them excellent for operation in tight spaces. While CTLs are technically capable of the same, this action causes premature wear on their undercarriage, so they should be allowed more room to turn.
  • Transport: When determining your project’s needs, you should also consider how you will get your equipment to your site. Skid steers are lighter and easier to transport, allowing you to move your equipment more efficiently. Adding this factor into your calculations can help you choose between the two equipment types.

Because every job site is unique and has its limitations and challenges, choosing the right equipment to fit the work environment can help you complete your projects with ease and efficiency.

Find the Equipment You Need at Ohio CAT — The Cat Rental Store

As you prepare for your next project, carefully consider your needs and requirements to help narrow down whether you should rent a CTL or a skid steer. At Ohio CAT — The Cat Rental Store, we offer a wide variety of sizing and power selections for skid steers and compact track loaders so you can find the one that will best serve your needs.

Still not sure which machine is best for you? We’re here to help if you need assistance making the call — just reach out online or connect with the knowledgeable team at your nearest Ohio CAT location.

With decades of experience and service with many different industries, Ohio CAT — The Cat Rental Store can help connect you with the best equipment for all your needs. Explore our full selection of rental earthmoving equipment today and discover the perfect machine for your next project.

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