How to Choose Your First Loader: Small Articulated Loader vs. Mini Track Loader

Posted on January 2, 2023


Are you a first-time loader buyer? Whether you need horsepower to increase your work efficiency or to combat labor shortages, a Bobcat machine makes a great investment. With so many models to choose from, you’re sure to find a model that fits your needs.

Each Bobcat product has its strengths, and it can be a challenge to narrow down that purchasing decision if you’re new to compact equipment. So let’s make it a little simpler by comparing two Bobcat products that are very popular with first-time equipment buyers: the small articulated loader, sometimes referred to as a compact articulated loader, and mini track loader, sometimes referred to as a mini skid-steer loader. Both machines are maneuverable, easy to use and will do a great job of replacing manual labor.

They both provide a small footprint and minimal ground disturbance

Each of these compact machines will give you easy access to small yards or through narrow gates – and each minimizes ground disturbance in its own way. The small articulated loader eases through turns with its articulated steering and the high-flotation track system of the mini track loader minimizes ground pressure.

Reach is where the differences begin

The Bobcat small articulated loader starts to stand apart when you look at its high reach – particularly with the L28’s telescoping lift arm.

Consider operator comfort and machine speed

If the ability to work while seated is important to you, as well as the comfort of a cab, a small articulated loader may fit your needs better. A small articulated loader can be upgraded with an enclosed heated cab and heated seat. The window panels can be added or removed to further adapt to the season. The small articulated loader can also travel faster than a mini track loader.

Think about how much you’ll enter and exit the machine

The mini track loader is the machine of choice for people who need to frequently exit and enter the machine. With its simple ride-on platform, it’s easy to switch from moving materials or operating attachments to doing other jobs off the machine. Another benefit of the mini track loader is its excellent visibility, which provides a wide view to the work area.

Choose your preferred controls

Mini track loaders and small articulated loaders offer two unique control setups that are ergonomic, easy-to-use, and tailored to best control the machine’s unique features.

The small articulated loader features a steering wheel and travel direction pedals that allow intuitive operation and quick direction changes. This style of controls is easy for new and inexperienced operators.

The mini track loader has ergonomic joystick controls for comfortable operation and low fatigue.

When it comes to attachment versatility, both machines will satisfy a variety of needs

The small articulated loader and mini track loader are approved for use with dozens of unique Bobcat attachments, including multiple buckets, forks, angle brooms and snow attachments. The grapple, soil conditioner, auger  and more will make either machine a worthy all-purpose workhorse on your next project.

Get a closer look at both machines at your local Bobcat dealer

When looking at differences in equipment, your local Bobcat dealer can be very helpful.

Also having someone nearby for genuine Bobcat parts, service and support can make a huge difference over the life of your machine. Find your local dealer to get started on the purchase of the right loader for your work.