The most popular manufacturers of skid steers
Since the original skid steer was invented in 1957, it has made huge advancements to what it has become today. Over the last 65 years many manufactures have now included the skid steer into their product lines. For many of these manufacturers the skid steer, also known as a skid loader, compact track loader or skid steer loader have become the "bread and butter" or top seller with in their construction equipment product lines.
Today I would like to talk about the most popular skid steer brands. Each skid steer brand is unique in there offering. The skid steer loader brands we will be evaluating are considered, in my opinion, the top 5 skid steer brands.
As I walk through each of my top manufacturers, please keep in mind sometimes one make and model of skid steer may be better at running certain skid steer attachments than the other. For instance, even though ASV Compact Track Loader is not in my top 5 of skid steer loader manufactures, it is however probably the best machine to run mulching equipment like a drum mulcher attachment or disc mulcher attachment due to the amount of torque, pressure and horsepower they offer.
1 BOBCAT SKID STEERS
It should not be a big shock that the Bobcat Company is the number 1 skid steer brand on the market today. They were the inventor of the skid steer and the first to market. In fact, when people refer to skid steers or compact track loaders, the some times refer to them as "Bobcat" in stead of a skid steer.
Today Bobcat has stiff market competition, but still stands at the number 1 skid steer brand. As far as make and models of popular Bobcat skid steers, there are many. The MT series is the mini style walk behind or stand on mini skid steer. The S Series Bobcats are the wheeled skid steers and the T series are the compact track loaders
My personal favorite machine is the Bobcat T76. Its more of a middle of the for skid steer loaders with an rated operating capacity of 2,900 lbs. and auxiliary hydraulic standard flow of 23.3 GPM. This machine gives the operator the control, efficiency and versatility for basically any job. It also has the option to run high flow in order to operate such attachments as brush cutters or mulching heads.
I am not however a fan of the mini MT series models. Although, very reliable, they are not as forgiving when looking for attachments. Reason is the mounts come standard non-universal. They come with the MT quick attach mounting system. The MT mini skid steers cannot use other attachments mini skid steer brands such as Boxer, Vermeer, Ditch Witch or the new Kubota SCL 1000 use. So all the other brands can use each others attachments but not the Bobcat brand mini's. This can be a big problem especially if you are going to rent an attachment.
So overall, great brand, but my recommendation is choose a different mini machine.
2 CATERPILLAR (CAT) SKID STEERS
Caterpillar or CAT is easily the number 2 in skid steer brand or compact track loader brand. Their technology in their newest models are simple to understand but complex enough to be full featured for excellent productivity on the job site.
Many times when asked, why did you an end user go with a CAT skid steer or compact track loader, they will most likely say because they have always ran a CAT skid steer and you can't be the service. When it comes to service CAT seems to rank very high in the industry and when you need to rely on uptime to finish a job on time and need service quickly Caterpillar track loaders and skid steer machinery service reliability seems to shine better than the other brands.
Overall in the CAT lineup of skid loaders my favorite machine is the CAT 299 D3. This machine is a powerhouse. The operating weight for this compact track loader comes in at a whopping 12,764 lbs. The rated operating capacity is also impressive at 5360 lbs. This machine has more power than the typically skid steer coming in with an industry leading 110 hp.
This machine can run any implement. All the way up to a forestry mulcher as long as you add the forestry option to your machine. Overall there is no downside to purchasing a CAT skid loader.
3 KUBOTA SKID STEERS
Even though it is not the most popular brand in the industry, it is my favorite brand in the industry. Kubota has been gaining strong momentum in market share over the last 10 years. The operating ease, great visibility, ride control, and overall design simplifies operation for the end users.
The uptime reliability of all the Kubota skid steers and compact track loaders are second to none. Starting with the skid steers SSV65 and SSV75's. These machines have added stability, a larger operating capacity and higher bucket dump reach than similar skid steers in this class.
As far as the Kubota compact track loaders, you simply cannot beat them. The engine technology, operating ergonomics, and overall performance is simply the best. My overall favorite Kubota track loader is the SVL 95-2. This machine offers a excellent performance, excellent break out force, operator comfort, and excellent hydraulic GPM on either low or high flow.
One option, although simple, that many operators like is the way the window rolls up out of the way of the operator for easy enter and exit of the machine. It is also quite stable to have open on those warm days working around the job site. No rattling or making annoying noises during operation.
4 CASE SKID STEER LOADERS
Case skid steers are built like tanks! The hand controls of the Case skid steer loaders hand controls are reactive and easy to use. Most of the new Case skid steer loaders and all hand control machines. So for you operators who are used to running a hand and foot controlled skid steers, it may take a bit to get used to.
One thing you will notice right away with Case skid steers is the visibility they offer excellent visibility which allows the operator to get the work done quick while still being safe. One downside some operators complain about with some of the Case skid loaders is the belly. The belly seems to be lower to the ground causing belly drag in wet conditions. This can be a problem, causing the unit to get stuck in some applications.
I must say though, you will want to check out the all new Case TV620B. This 16,000 lb. track steer is an absolute beast. This is the largest option out of all compact track loaders in the industry today. The TV620B has the highest breakout bucket force in the industry. I look forward to test operating this unit and will review more in the future.
5 JOHN DEERE SKID STEER
John Deere is a well known American Made skid steer brand. Even though John Deere is more known for their line of commercial farm tractors, they also make an excellent skid steer. The same reliability John Deere uses in there full line of farm equipment transfers directly over to their construction equipment such as the compact track loaders.
John Deere specializes in skid steers and compact track loaders ranging from 65 to 100 horse power. These machines are know for their reliability with many dealers around the country. This means great service maintenance and readily available parts.
Out of all the skid steer loaders in the John Deere line up, the one I like the best is the John Deere 333G. This track loader comes in at just under 97 hp. If you are looking for a hydraulic high flow compact track loader, this is a great choice.
With 41.1 Gallons Per Minute, the hydraulic flow of this unit will easily run cold planers, disc mulchers, drum mulchers, rock grinders and many other skid steer attachments.
WHAT SKID STEER LOADER BRANDS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU
When searching for a skid steer or compact track loader it is essential to begin by first thinking about the applications you will be using the unit for daily? Determine what skid steer attachments you will be running on your skid loader? Will you mostly be running on hard surface or dirt and mud applications?
Other things to consider are where is the nearest dealer located? How quickly can I get parts such as tires, tracks, or undercarriage parts in case of a breakdown. These are all things to consider.
Like I suggested in the beginning of this blog, just because one brand is more popular than another, does not mean it is the right brand for the job. For example when looking to purchase a track loader for applications such as forestry mulching you want a high horsepower, high auxiliary hydraulic high flow, high pressure and high lifting capacity.
The overall best track loader for the job today is the ASV RT135. This unit offers an industry leading high flow of 50 GPM at an astounding 4060 psi. This machine has crazy horsepower at 135 hp. and a rated operating capacity at 50% of 5050 lbs.
Another example of what make brand make and model is best for you would be size. Can you pull it? Will it fit in your trailer? Do you need to get into a customers back yard? Questions so simple, but you would be surprised how many operators do not think about these objectives.
So as you can see, do not focus on the brand as much as the applications and attachments the equipment will be using.