We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Skid Steer Loader?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A skid steer loader, or skid loader, is a relatively small machine that is powered by an engine. Many different attachments can be used with this machine in order to make certain labor-intensive tasks easier. Skid loaders are mainly used for excavation purposes, though snow plows can also be attached to these machines in order to remove large drifts of snow, and to clear roads and sidewalks.

On occasion, a skid steer loader is built upon a set of tracks. However, most skid loaders are four-wheel drive vehicles that are capable of pushing and hauling heavy objects. Generally, a loader's wheels function independently of one another, which helps the vehicle to turn in different directions at different speeds.

Since many industrial environments require machinery that is precise and agile, a skid loader is often the preferred tool of choice. A skid steer loader is capable of making a hairpin turn, which means that these machines can maneuver in and out of tight areas. The metal arms that are attached to a loader run alongside the driver cabin. While today's loaders have enclosed driver cabins, this wasn't always the case.

The first skid steer loader was manufactured by Cyril and Louis Keller in 1957. This prototype did not have an enclosed cabin, and drivers were often injured by mechanical arms. Originally, the main purpose of the first loader was to remove chicken manure from turkey farms. While the loader proved to be much more effective at hauling away manure than a shovel was, the Melroe Brothers of North Dakota knew that the machine could be put to better use.

After purchasing the rights to the original skid steer loader from the Keller Brothers, the skid loader took on a new look. By hiring the Kellers to come up with a new model, the Melroes were able to manufacture the M-200 self-propelled loader. This loader had a rear caster wheel that allowed the machine to turn quite easily; the M-200 was introduced to the public in 1958. In 1960, the rear caster wheel was replaced with a rear axle, and the M-400 was created. Shortly thereafter, this machine became known as the "Melroe Bobcat."

Today, the term "Bobcat" is often used to indicate a skid steer loader of any kind. Presently, there are many different steer loaders on the market, and nearly every company that makes industrial machinery has a different version of this tool. Even though the first skid steer loader was invented in order to replace the shovel, steer loaders have many unique uses today.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.