We’ve had the wheel for almost 6,000 years. It has served its purpose so well that no one thought about modifying it. That is until the Industrial Age.

As machinery grew larger, the wheels they used became a liability. Wheels touch the ground over a small part of their surface area. This does not work well in certain situations. The wheel needed improvements. 

That’s where track equipment comes into play. Tracks allowed heavy machinery and equipment trucks to go places that would be impossible using wheels and tires. 

There are two main types of tracks. But which track works best, steel or rubber tracks? Read on to find out. 


Track Equipment vs. Tires  

Tracks are used on heavy machinery a great deal in the oil and gas industry, construction industry, and mining industry. There are some pros and cons to tracks depending on the weather and ground conditions 

Pro: Heavy machinery using tires cannot move well on soft terrain. There’s so much weight per square inch on the tires that the ground cannot support the weight and the equipment sinks. There’s not enough traction. Traction requires friction, and with a tire, there’s not enough friction. 

Steel tracks grab the ground and spread the weight over a large surface area. This allows even the heaviest machinery to traverse challenging terrain. 

Cons: Tires steer better. Tracks, in contrast, make your machine cumbersome to move around. 

The flip side to having a lot of friction with the ground is the energy requirement. It takes more horsepower and more fuel to move a 10-ton excavator using treads rather than tires. 


Rubber vs. Steel Tracks 

Once you know you will need track equipment, the question becomes, steel or rubber tracks? Here are some factors that will help you decide which to choose. 


Rubber tracks cost less than steel. They need replacing more often, but their long-term cost to operate is cheaper. Rubber tracks are easier to repair due to less weight and greater elasticity. 



Steel tracks bite into the surface better than rubber tracks. Heavy machinery is less likely to get stuck when using steel tracks. But, steel tracks chew up the ground including concrete.


Noise and Comfort 

Steel tracks clank, clang, and rattle. In sensitive environments, this might create too much noise pollution. Rubber tracks do not make these noises. 

Heavy machinery with rubber tracks rides more smoothly than one using steel. If you work  in construction, mining, or drilling, the rigors of riding on steel tracks can take a toll on a worker’s body. 


Types of Ground 

When working on grass and dirt, rubber tracks work best. They grip well, ride smoother, and do not tear up dirt and grass as steel tracks do. 

But, when working on ice and snow, or loose ground, steel tracks work best. They provide better traction on this type of ground and do not suffer wear and tear as fast as rubber does on loose terrain. 


Both Types of Tracks Work Great 

Without track equipment, many areas would be off-limits to excavators and dozers. Even smaller construction equipment such as skid steers cannot operate on soft, loose, or icy ground without tracks. Please contact us today to reserve your track equipment.