Step bars or nerf bars and running boards are an affordable and simple modification you can make to your vehicle that adds protection, functionality, and style. Some nerf bars are intended solely for style such as chrome Sport Tubes, while other side steps, like running boards, are designed for more practical uses like cleaning off your boots or giving a vertically challenged passenger a boost into your lifted truck, Jeep or SUV.
Choosing what kind of step bar you want for your vehicle comes down to two main factors, one is your personal style and two, is what you need to use the step bar for. If you take your 4×4 on off-road adventures all year round, you may want to consider getting a rocker panel step bar. Alternatively, if you are constantly getting in and out of your truck for work and need to get tools and gear from your truck bed, a running board or wheel-to-wheel nerf bar may be a better choice for you. Below you’ll find the different types of step bars available for your truck,Jeep or SUV as well as, how to decide which one is the right choice for you.
Nerf Step Bars
Sport tubes or rocker panel bars are designed for the off-roader that wants to add a more stylized chrome feature to their vehicle. Sport tubes are generally only used for decoration and provide little function, except for some rocker panel protection. These RKR Rails from N-Fab are a prime example of premium sport tubes. Sport tubes are best for low riding trucks and SUVs, but you’ll most often see these specific type of bars used for off-road Jeeps. Additionally, some sport tubes come with the option of mounting on drop-down steps, should you ever need to add this feature.
Cab Length Nerf Bars
As the name would suggest, these nerf bars extend for the length of the cab. With this type of nerf bar, you’ll find that there are usually two different step pads for both the front and rear entrances. These pads are made of a slip-resistant treaded material that allows for a steadier step into your 4×4 and can also be used to scrape off dirt, mud or snow from the bottom of your shoes, thus keeping the inside of your ride clean. Cab length nerf bars are great if you have younger, older, or short passengers that could use a boost. In addition to their practicality, they are also a favorite among off-roaders as they can help to protect your Jeep or truck from damage caused by rocks and other debris that can come flying toward your vehicle on the trail. Westin R5 Nerf Step Bars or their E-Series are some of the top-rated cab length nerf bars in the industry.
Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Bars
The longer cousin of the cab length nerf bar, Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf bars provide the same type of protection and treaded steps in both chrome and color plated options as a cab length nerf bar. However, wheel-to-wheel nerf bars extend past the cab all the way to the rear wheels. People will often choose this type of step bar as opposed to a cab length nerf bar if they want to reach into the bed of their truck or to the top of utility racks more easily. Both N-Fab and Westin sell stylized wheel-to-wheel nerf bars that can be fitted to your trucks specifications.
Oval Nerf Step Bars
Oval shaped nerf step bars offer a wider tread for you to place your feet on than nerf bars that are tubular in design. Oval nerf bars are oftentimes chosen for their unique design alone but are a smart option if you often travel with younger or older passengers or use your truck for work, as they provide a sturdier foothold than other models of step bars. PRO TRAXX 5 Oval Nerf Step Bars by Westin come with fully welded domed ends and is bolt installed, so there is no drilling required to mount these bad boys.
Running boards provide the same kind of function and protection as nerf step bars do, just in a different style. Running boards can come in cab length or wheel-to-wheel length depending on your needs. Unlike nerf bars, running boards feature tread along the entire “board” and are usually rectangular, providing better traction than many tubular nerf bars with smaller foot pads. However, this “running” traction catches onto other things too, like snow, ice and mud more easily than tubular nerf step bars. To combat this, retractable running boards were created. This high tech feature is perfect for when you’re driving during inclement weather or if you just don’t like the look of exposed running boards.
While most nerf bars are made of polished chrome, running boards are typically powder coated to the color of your choice or to match the color of your vehicle.
Built-in-lights are an additional feature most commonly found in running boards that add additional safety when stepping into your cab at night and can illuminate your vehicle for night time driving.