Best Side Steps for Trucks: Nerf Bars vs. Running Boards

Red pickup truck with truck side steps on a dirt path.

Free Shipping

Shop now and get FREE standard shipping on applicable orders over $200.

Shop Now

Share

Some of us like morphing our trucks into titans with jaw-dropping heights and impressive buildouts. A pickup truck can transform into a 14-foot-tall beast with the right combination of lifts, tires, and other modifications. The advantages of increased ride height on a vehicle are abundant, from improved ground clearance to enhanced resale value. Sometimes, we build our truck out a little too good and need help getting into the colossal car. That’s where Nerf bars and running boards come in. The best side steps for trucks and SUVs will aid you in easy entry and exit to your vehicle for years to come. But when it comes to the different types of aftermarket side steps, are Nerf bars or running boards better?

Advantages of Nerf Bars

White pickup truck with side steps for trucks in the woods.

Nerf bars are metal bars that mount to a vehicle’s frame for ease of entry. They often include a texturized plastic or rubber step section for added traction alongside the vehicle. Typically, nerf bars are constructed from durable tubular steel, roughly three to five inches in diameter. From chrome to stainless to black powder finish, there are a variety of coatings to choose from. You can let the finish pop against that of your vehicle or get it paint-matched to the body for a seamless look. Nerf bars can be some of the best side steps for trucks and Jeeps, depending on what you value. Here’s what they bring to the trails:

Ease of Use

Nerf bars usually hang lower to the ground and have a vertical drop. This makes them the easy, low-effort choice for vehicle exit and entry. If you want easier access to your cab and superior vehicle protection, Westin Nerf Bars are known for their balance of durability and functionality. These are great for people who don’t want to feel like they’re scaling a mountain every time they enter their vehicle.

Replaceable Treads

Rubber treads can break or fall off, but rather than having to replace the entire Nerf bar, you can simply replace the treads. Many models offer bolt-on, no-drill installation, and easy replacements, such as Go Rhino Nerf Bars. Replacing parts rather than the whole can save you time and money in the long run while minimizing worry about perfectly preserving steps.

Less Debris Buildup

Nerf bars leave a space between the step and the vehicle body, allowing debris, rocks, and mud to filter out. The looser particles can stay, the less likely they are to get lodged and build up as a result. Less debris means less maintenance and replacements to install on your truck side steps. Consider something like Dee Zee 3” Nerf Bars for optimal debris filtration. Complete with a choice of stainless steel or mild powder-coated steel and molded plastic step pads, Dee Zee 3” Nerf Bars provide a comfortable and safe non-skid step area.

Rocker Protection

The next perk provided by Nerf bars is a barrier to your vehicle’s rockers- this helps protect them and prevent damage. N-Fab Nerf Bars are known for their durability and longevity. Users have reported steady use of them for several years with minimal wear and tear. Off-road freely, and don’t worry about fragile accessories- these side steps can handle it!

Advantages of Running Boards

Side steps on a bright green Jeep.

Like nerf bars, running boards are designed to provide a sturdy step stool, allowing you to climb into your vehicle with ease. The main difference yielded from nerf bars and running boards is the difference in the tread. The tread section of the average running board tends to be wider and deeper than that of a nerf bar. If your definition of the best side steps for trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs includes traction, strength, ground clearance, and looks, you’ll want to look into running boards.

Better Grip

The wider tread sections of running boards provide better traction and more solid footing when in use. A reliable grip can save you the pain and struggle of slipping on your way up the steps. After a long day of hunting, hiking, or adventuring when you’re physically exhausted, you’ll be less coordinated and probably on the clumsier side. This means being more prone to slips that could lead to gear damage or injury. With running boards, you won’t have to worry about dropping your gear or slipping the wrong way. The best running boards are steps you can trust.

Stronger and Sturdier Build

Since running boards are mounted closer to the frame of the vehicle, they tend to be sturdier and more capable of supporting weight. If you’re taking the whole crew with you, you won’t have to worry about everyone using the step bars at the same time. Go Rhino RB Running Boards boast a bold, aggressive look with durability and utility to match. The perforated surface provides added traction to prevent mud and debris buildup while supporting heavy loads. This is a great one to have if you go on hunting outings and wilderness adventures that involve heavy gear. Go anywhere with Go Rhino running boards.

Sleek and Streamlined Look

Usually, running boards are sleeker and more aesthetically pleasing. This is due to their highly durable materials, including steel, aluminum, and fiberglass. They can really take a hit and endure the elements while still maintaining that polished, streamlined look. If you’ve invested lots of money into your vehicle, looks are worth considering when determining the best side steps for trucks and Jeeps.

No Impact on Ground Clearance

Running boards are nestled near the vehicle’s rocker panel, so the step doesn’t hang as far down. This means that if a rogue branch or piece of asphalt juts up from the ground, your running board will be less likely to snag it. This is especially helpful when traversing tough terrain, as it won’t have to endure as much wear and tear. AMP Research Powerstep Running Boards provide a convenient, easy place to step, and can retract when they’re not in use to maintain optimal ground clearance. They have a carrying capacity of 600 pounds and have been tested in every type of environment, from 200 °F to -40°F. For those looking to off-road anywhere with max ground clearance, be sure to check out AMP Research Running Boards.

What Are the Best Side Steps for Trucks?

Black pickup truck with bike rack and side steps for trucks.

When it comes to deciding what the best side steps for trucks are, consider your personal needs. Both Nerf bars and running boards shine in different areas of utility. If you think your ride could benefit from maintaining good ground clearance, then running boards make sense. If you want low steps for easy entry to your vehicle, nerf bars are the move. Regardless of your choice, both aftermarket sidestep options offer improved safety, ease, and traction during travel. Discover a myriad of Nerf bars and running boards to enhance your vehicle to its full potential!

Level Up Your Vehicle!

At Omni Garage, we make it our mission to level up your vehicle to its highest potential at the lowest price. Whether it’s traveling to a job or traversing terrain, we’re all about getting you where you need to go.