What is The Difference Between Rocker Guards and Side Steps?

Side steps on black pickup truck in the forest

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With all the off-roading and rock crawling involved in overlanding, sometimes it can turn into a battle between your Jeep and the rocks. Which will come out of the excursion unscathed? You don’t want to damage your beloved truck or Jeep, but what’s the point of going overlanding if you can’t be a little rough, navigating boldly and bravely? That’s why you’ll want to suit your ride up with some of the best armor. Rocker guards and side steps for trucks and Jeeps are highly functional aftermarket accessories for off-roading vehicles. These add-ons provide a degree of safety and protection when entering and exiting. However, they vary in construction, look, and purpose. If you came to this article looking for some guidance on what to buy next for your Jeep or truck, you’re in the right place. Knowing the different facets of each accessory will help you determine which one best meets your needs. So then, what is the difference between rocker guards and side steps?

What Is a Rocker Guard?

When people ask gear-related questions like “What is the difference between rocker guards and side steps?” they often skip a step. First, it’s important to understand what a rocker guard is and what a side step is.

Rocker guards are what their name suggests. They’re plates of metal that protect a Jeep’s rockers against tumbling rocks and rogue tree branches, along with other unexpected obstacles you might encounter on a trail. Rocker guards for Jeeps are made from steel, usually with a heavy-duty black powder coating. This material serves as a highly durable, fortified shield against damage. To install rocker guards, it’s typically a fairly simple process. It mainly involves drilling into the body and securing the guards with nut inserts. Bear in mind that rocker guards are typically a more permanent modification, meant for those who plan on doing some serious off-roading.

What is the Difference Between Rocker Guards and Side Steps When it Comes to Function?

Bright green Jeep with rocker guards parked on gravel.

Rocker guards are the first line of defense for a vehicle’s rockers. They’re crucial for protecting your vehicle’s underbelly when rock crawling and off-roading on jagged terrains.

Heavy-duty Protection for Off-roading

If you’re new to 4x4s and off-roading, you might wonder, “Do Jeep rocker panels need protection? My Jeep is a rugged beast; it can handle it.” But if this ain’t your first rodeo, then you know: they’re pretty important. A vehicle’s rockers are the structural reinforcements that prevent the whole vehicle from collapsing. You definitely don’t want your Jeep collapsing when you’re out at a remote destination. This would be a 4×4 enthusiast’s worst nightmare. If you’ve made many modifications to your Jeep or Bronco, you’ll want to preserve it at all costs.

Rocker guards are a sound solution to keeping those rockers intact. They also function to offer some residual protection to the sill plate. With all the climbing in and out and jumping on and off your Jeep, the exterior sill plate could use a bit of protection from dents and dings. For maximum ruggedness, consider Fab Fours rocker guards, which are made highly durable with their tubular steel and fully welded construction.

Some Added Accessibility

Rocker guards can also be used as steps to get into a tall vehicle easier, but they weren’t specifically designed for this purpose. Due to their material and construction, rocker guards may not be as comfortable or as grippy and secure to use as steps. If accessibility to your Jeep or Bronco is what you’re after, you’re going to want to look into side steps.

What Are Side Steps for Trucks and Jeeps?

White pickup truck with side steps in the forest.

Side steps for trucks and Jeeps are accessories made from plastic or lightweight metals that bolt into the body or frame for easier vehicle access. Like rocker panels, side steps for Jeeps are easy to install with just a few bolts. When it comes to installation, side steps aren’t as permanent as rocker panels. If, in a year, you decide you want to remove them, it will just require some unbolting and lifting.

What Are Side Steps Used For?

What is the difference between rocker guards and side steps? When finding the answer, a curious enthusiast must look to their purposes.

Accessibility: Easy Entry into Vehicles

Side steps on a black Sierra pickup truck parked on a grassy field.

The main use for side steps is to enhance ease of access to the vehicle. They can be especially helpful in taller vehicles that have body lifts or suspension lifts. Side steps benefit travelers and explorers who often climb in and out of their vehicles several times daily. This could be for anything from replenishing fishing bait to setting up the campsite. Side steps often come with a textured surface to provide a better grip. This improves safety when entering and exiting the vehicle. With all the mud, dirt, slime, and grime that your hiking boots can track, it’s not a bad idea to have a little extra traction.

Mild Protection

Side steps also offer a light level of protection for everyday use. They can protect against a shopping cart adrift in the breeze or a neighboring car door that invades a little too far into your parking space. Due to their lightweight materials like plastics and aluminum, side steps don’t offer the same level of protection as rocker guards. They wouldn’t yield desirable results for aggressive off-roading. However, if you want to add a little accessibility and style to your ride, you can’t go wrong with side steps for trucks and Jeeps.

Overall, What is the Difference Between Rocker Guards and Side Steps?

Cherry red pickup truck with side steps parked on gravel.

So, what is the difference between rocker guards and side steps after all? Rocker guards are all about heavy-duty protection for off-roading vehicles, and once they’re on, they’re staying there. Side steps for trucks and Jeeps are steps that help small-legged people climb in and out of a vehicle with more ease and traction. They do so while providing modest protection to the sides of the vehicle. Side steps can be easily installed or removed, plus brands like AMP Research have clever designs, like retractable steps that can flip up when they’re not in use. Whether you’re customizing your ride to be a comfortable cruiser or an off-roading machine, either of these modifications will add value to your vehicle. It’s all about going with what suits your purposes the best.

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.