Compact Wheel Loader vs Skid Steer Loader

- Nov 26, 2019-

Small articulated wheel loaders are carving a dent into the skid steer market. More and more contractors are finding that the compact wheel loader is a suitable, and sometimes better option to buy or rent than a skid steer loader. Snow removal contractors are no exception. There is no perfect formula when you are trying to decide between the two, but we are going to point out some of the important considerations that may be part of your decision.


The compact wheel loader is a fast machine. The Equipment World Spec Guide shows most small loaders offer a travel speed of around 10 to 14 mph.  Skid steers average about 7 to 10 mph. Compact loaders also articulate quickly and load faster than a skid steer.

Lifting Capacity

Even large skid steers cannot boast the weight capacity that even small compact wheel loader have. By nature, the compact wheel loader is longer,and has more counterbalance than a skid steer so the tipping point is greater. 


Nothing can match the skid steer for maneuverability. It can counter-rotate in its tracks and the low cab height allows it under structures with low clearances.Clearly the biggest advantage of the skid steer is the zero turning radius. By skid-turning, you can literally turn around within the footprint of the machine. If maneuverability is your No.1 concern you have to go with the skid steer loader.


It depends on what you're looking at. The skid steer gives you good visibility to the bucket cutting edge. A compact wheel loader gives you better visibility behind and to the side.360 degree visibility is generally better in the compact wheel loader than in the skid steer loader. The operator in the compact wheel loader is seated higher, and has more 360 degree visibility. You can clearly see your back rear corner in most compact wheel loader,while in a skid steer this is virtually impossible.

Exiting And Entering The Equipment

Skid steers typically enter and exit over the boom, and you are climbing up over the boom (while it is dropped), spinning around, and sitting down into the seat. This is difficult, even for an agile operator. The compact wheel loader, is usually mounted from either side, and you simply climb a step or two to enter the cab and sit down into the seat. From and ease of entrance standpoint, the compact wheel loader is the better choice.


A skid steer is often portrayed as a multi-function animal and there are a wide variety of attachments that make it so. Compact wheel loaders tend to be viewed as bucket machines, although with auxiliary hydraulics they too can power a number of attachments.

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