What Size Skid Loader Should I Rent?

What Size Skid Loader Should I Rent?

Are you looking for a rental skid loader but aren't sure what size to go with? Choosing the right size for your equipment is simple when you know what to look for. From maneuverability to storage, a few key considerations will help to inform your rental decision and ensure you have the tools you require when you need them.

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What Do You Need to Know About Skid Loaders?

Skid loaders are called a few different names, including skid steers and skid steer loaders. They are very similar to track loaders. However, skid steers feature four wheels instead of two sets of tracks.

These highly versatile pieces of equipment are relatively compact machines that can hook up to a variety of buckets or attachments. They are easy to operate and can be utilized in many industries, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Landscaping
  • Construction
  • Roadwork

Skid loaders are available in a range of different sizes and configurations, from compact walk-around models to full-size machines. 

Small-frame skid steers are ideal for job sites with tight spaces or narrow pathways. Medium-size loaders are more powerful but still small enough to travel over asphalt and concrete. Large skid loaders are best suited for job sites requiring extensive work. Before selecting your equipment, explore the different options available and consider what size will be best suited for your next project.

Skid Loader Size Guide

Learn more about the different sizes available for skid steer loaders and some useful insights to help you find the right option for your business:

Large Skid Loaders

Full-size skid steer loaders are ideal for your business's largest and most extensive projects.

If your job site does not have many limitations in terms of space or terrain, a large machine is a great option. Large skid loaders can produce the greatest gross power and lifting capacities for your most involved tasks. When working with heavy or high volumes of materials, a large skid loader is equipped to handle the stress while keeping crews productive.

Some heavy-duty applications that large models are well-suited for include:

  • Drilling
  • Excavation
  • Grading
  • Large-scale demolition

If you are looking to boost efficiency and your job site has the available room, consider renting a large skid loader for your upcoming project.

Medium Skid Loaders

Medium skid loaders are the most popular and sought-after rental option available for businesses. This size is often utilized in construction and material management applications since these machines are well-suited for the following job site tasks:

  • Site preparation
  • Debris removal 
  • Material transport
  • Grading
  • Leveling  

Though these models have a smaller build than full-size options, you will still need to consider how tight your job site is and if you need an even more compact model. A medium skid loader might be right for you if you need a good deal of power but do not have a lot of available space. 

Compact Skid Loaders

site development

Compact skid loaders are small pieces of equipment that feature a cab for operators to sit inside. Some of the top applications for compact models are:

  • Landscaping: Because of their small size, these skid steer loaders are great for navigating yards and moving between properties. 
  • Site development: From preparing for paving to installing site utilities, compact skid loaders are a great option for site development tasks. 
  • Final grading: Topping off soil for sidewalk installation or patio areas is effortless when using a compact machine that's easy to maneuver. 

These models are great for job sites with tight corners and narrow margins. 

Walk-Behind Skid Loaders

Walk-behind skid loaders are also called stand-on loaders, and they are well-suited for a lot of the same applications as compact options. However, these machines are even smaller and do not have a cab. Instead, operators stand on a platform behind the equipment and operate the machinery while upright. 

Walk-behind skid loaders are ideal for interior projects or extremely tight job sites. These machines are efficient alternatives to work that would traditionally be done with a wheelbarrow and shovel. They are a good pick for repair work and landscaping applications. 

Skid Loader Size Considerations

Businesses and contractors can benefit from asking themselves some important questions about their project needs when trying to figure out what size equipment to rent. 

Narrowing down the right type of skid loader depends on many factors, ranging from terrain to needed lifting capacity. Explore the following considerations before choosing the right size for your rental equipment:

Job Size and Conditions

One of the first things you should do is assess your upcoming jobs. Answering as many questions as possible upfront will allow you to make the most informed decision. The following are some of the important concerns you should address first:

  • What is the scale of your next project?
  • What are the site conditions and terrain like?
  • How much space are you going to work with?
  • What is your timeline looking like?
  • Will there be interior construction needs?
  • What upcoming tasks require heavy equipment?
  • Do you need any skid loader attachments?
  • What equipment do you have available in your current fleet?
  • Are there any site restrictions?

The job's scale and site's conditions will inform what size skid loader will be best suited for your applications. Your operators will need to maneuver these pieces of equipment around your job site and be able to handle carrying the necessary loads for your upcoming tasks. 

Specific Applications

Skid loaders are useful for a wide range of applications, including:

  • Demolition
  • Snow removal
  • Debris removal 
  • Excavating
  • Digging
  • Trenching
  • Grading
  • Backfilling
  • Loading
  • Site development
  • Material handling

Now consider the actual tasks your team will be tackling on your upcoming project and what they will require in terms of:

  • Space: How will your operators get around the job site, and how much space will they need to navigate around safely? 
  • Volume: The type and volume of materials you'll be working with are important factors to consider when choosing the right size equipment. 
  • Speed: Assess how tight your deadlines are and how quickly you'll need to work through each task. A larger skid loader model may help improve productivity.

Your business's specific applications will inform what skid loader size is right for your operation. You'll want to choose a model that will help your team get the job done while maintaining productivity.

Available Space

Another important factor to consider when choosing a skid steer size is your available space. You will need to determine how much room there will be for your equipment to navigate around the site with ease and stability. 

What are your impending job sites like? Your business will need to account for the type of areas you'll work in. For example, if you are working in urban areas, you will likely have less space available. And if you are working in suburban or rural regions, your job site may be more expansive and spacious.

You'll want to choose equipment that is easy for your operators to move around your project. Close quarters will make it difficult for larger machines to get in and out, especially if there are neighboring structures nearby. 

Storage space is also essential. Businesses need to account for where the equipment will go when it is not in use. 

Attachment Needs

Your attachment needs will also inform your rental equipment decision-making. Attachments are a cost-effective way to make a machine more versatile. 

Your operators will be able to execute a wide range of applications with one machine rather than needing multiple different pieces of single-use equipment. Businesses can benefit from renting attachments along with skid steers.  

Popular attachments for skid steer loaders include:

  • Augers
  • Backhoes
  • Buckets
  • Brush cutters
  • Brooms
  • Hammers
  • Rakes
  • Tillers
  • Trenchers

Note that these attachments have specific power requirements, and you will need to ensure they are compatible with the rental machine you choose. If the skid loader cannot produce enough power, you will be unable to operate safely with the attachment.

Size and power are often directly linked. Larger machines can typically accommodate higher power requirements. Your business will need to find the right balance between these equipment characteristics. 

Lift Reach and Capacity

What materials and obstacles are you going to be working with on your next project? You'll need to account for the following when choosing the right size skid steer:

  • Weight: One of the most important factors to consider is the materials and different weights you'll be working with on your job site. You want to make sure your equipment is more than capable of meeting your lifting needs. If you anticipate tackling particularly large or heavy loads, you likely want to choose a bigger skid loader for the job. Lifting capacity will impact productivity and safety. 
  • Height: Take into account the heights your operators will need to reach while moving and dumping materials. Whether you're working on a multi-story construction project or need to move loads over a tall obstacle, ensure your machine has the necessary reach it needs to clear certain heights. Your skid loader needs to support both the weight and height of your lifts to ensure the machine stays stable and safe for the operator. 
  • Operational space: Remember to account for the room your team will need to operate the equipment. Be sure you choose a skid steer that will have enough clearance around it on your job site. The amount of operations space your skid steer will take up could depend on the lift path on the machine you choose to rent. 

A skid loader's arm can follow either a radial or a vertical lift path. A radial lift can provide greater outward reach before reaching its maximum height. Utilizing a machine with this lift path is best for jobs performed near ground level, such as:

  • Digging
  • Grading
  • Excavating

Skid steers with a vertical lift path do not extend forward like radial lifts. Instead, they move straight up and down, making them better suited for reaching heights. Machines with this type of lift can be effective in tackling material handling jobs.


Your team is a highly important factor to consider when deciding on equipment size. Choose a machine that will be easy to navigate throughout your job site and that your employees are trained to use. 

Smaller skid loaders may be better suited for operators that are just getting comfortable with the equipment. If your crew is not trained in operating these machines, consider doing the following:

  • Host a training session
  • Hire trained third-party operators
  • Rent a different machine

When considering different skid steer sizes, always prioritize the safety and convenience of your operators.

Renting a Skid Loader

complete a unique job

If your business needs a skid loader for an upcoming project, renting one of these machines could be highly beneficial to your operation. Renting a skid loader means you can try one size to see if it works for your operations or choose a specific skid loader you need to complete a unique job.

Your business's budget and timeline will determine if renting is a desirable option. If you are not ready for an upfront investment, or you require the equipment for only a short period, turn to a trusted dealer for heavy equipment rentals.

How Do I Choose a Skid Steer Size When Renting?

When choosing a skid loader size, it is best to prioritize maneuverability and efficiency. These factors will be among the most impactful on your overall operation.


Your operators need to be able to maneuver around your future job site with ease. The skid loader size you'll choose will ultimately be informed by how it will be able to move about your projects. 

Look into the measurements for specific models and visualize how the equipment will move throughout the job site. Consider the terrain and ground conditions and the size that would offer the greatest stability for your operators. 

You should also assess the necessary clearance for the equipment and the site's surroundings. To keep your team in the best control of their machines, they need to have the skills to navigate each task safely and efficiently.


When picking out rental equipment, efficiency is also a top priority for businesses. The machines you choose will determine the following regarding your project:

  • Timelines
  • Costs
  • Ease of operation

Look at the scale of your upcoming project closely. You can boost efficiency by picking a machine that suits your available working space and produces optimal output.

Choosing a model that is too small or large for your project will slow your progress and decrease efficiency. Businesses can benefit from finding the largest model they can comfortably maneuver around the job site, as this can boost productivity and help get tasks completed faster. Keep in mind that the largest suitable model may be a compact one or a walk-behind.

Find Your Next Rental at The Cat® Rental Store Near You

Equipment size is an important factor to consider when choosing a rental skid loader for your business. When you turn to The Cat® Rental Store dealers, you can find high-quality machines to help you tackle your next project.

If you are ready for more information or need help finding the right equipment for your business, find The Cat Rental Store near you or browse rental equipment from dealers today!

Find The Cat Rental Store Near You