The skid loader is a small, compact type of front-loading vehicle that uses a skid steering mechanism. This type of loader has a tilting, hydraulic-operated loader bucket that moves up and down. The bucket is capable of clearing snow and landslides, of shifting harvest as well as moving livestock feed, soil, construction material and landfill debris. It is also used in construction, landscaping, farming, agriculture, road building and mining applications. The operator of the loader sits in a small cabin atop of the vehicle
There are different sized skid loaders and the average loader’s small and compact size (average size 1750 lbs.) makes it an ideal machine for use in areas that have narrow approaches or where there is a restriction on space, such as digging beneath a structure where the large boom of an excavator cannot reach. The loader bucket can be replaced with different attachments such as blades, rakes, balers, forks, snowplows and backhoes. The vehicles also feature either pneumatic rubber wheels or tank-like tracks to move them around on.
The most popular and common types of skid loaders used are the medium sized models that have operating capacities of about 1,750 lbs. However, there are some larger and more powerful skid loaders that have operating capacities of 3,000 to over 6,000 lbs. and these models are now gaining in popularity. Smaller skid loaders are also being used more as they are easier to maneuver than the larger loaders. These smaller loaders are generally known as mini-skid machines or mini-skid loaders and they have an operating capacity of 500 lbs. These small skid loaders can be cable or radio controlled. Compact skid loaders are rated at 1,050 to 1,250 lbs.
Skid loaders are selected according to their engine capacity, their horsepower, their loader bucket size, their weight carrying capacity and the potential reach of their bucket. Skid loaders are sometimes erroneously called 'Bobcats', which is actually a brand name for this type of vehicle. They are however, also known as skid steers.
Skid loaders can be quite dangerous to operate so make sure that only properly trained and qualified people are driving them.