Choosing Between Nerf Bars and Running Boards: Which One Is Perfect for Your Truck?

4WheelOnline
5 min readMay 7, 2023

One of the biggest challenges with owning a truck is getting in and out of the cab. That’s where nerf bars and running boards come in — helping you to solve the problem of getting in and out of the truck without hassle. If you own a pickup, then you should seriously consider installing nerf bars or running boards. They offer several benefits that can make owning and driving a pickup truck more enjoyable.

Photo Credit: Truck Hardware

Similarities

Nerf bars and running boards are often confused with each other. There are many similarities between these two truck accessories, such as the following:

Style: Running boards and nerf bars can boost the looks and make any pickup truck look more stylish. They can also add resale value to your vehicle when you have decided to sell it.

Convenience: Both running boards and nerf bars provide balance support for drivers and passengers when climbing in and out of the truck. They act as a stepping surface that allows drivers and passengers to enter a stable and convenient way to get in and out of the truck. They can also help wipe away mud, snow, or debris from shoes and other footwear conveniently before entering the cabin.

Easy access: Since they provide a stable and convenient way to get in and out of the truck bed, they are useful for people with limited mobility, such as people with disabilities or the elderly. They can also make it easier to access the truck’s roof for tasks, such as putting stuff on the roof rack or placing some cargo onto the bed.

Protection from damage: Both these truck accessories can help to protect the side panels from damage. They can be most helpful when driving in areas where you encounter a lot of debris. When driving on rough roads, they can also help deflect rocks and other fragment types that might scratch or dent the truck’s side panels. They help pickup truck drivers avoid dents from the impacts of loose gravel, branches, and other factors that may scratch the paint job. They also prevent mud from splattering near the doors and windows.

Improve aerodynamics: Because of their placement on the underbody, the two accessories can help improve the truck’s aerodynamics. They can help reduce the amount of wind resistance to improve the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Differences

Despite the similarities, running boards and nerf bars have some differences, such as the following:

Design

Although both can make any pickup truck look more stylish, they differ in design.

For many people, nerf bars may seem pipe-like since they are designed as long tubular bars. You can attach them to the sides of the truck bed. They come in a variety of lengths and materials, such as aluminum or steel. But if you are looking for a different style other than the regular tubular form, you may consider the oval-shaped ones. Compared to the regular rounder ones, oval-shaped nerf bars have wide surfaces and provide more security. You may also choose wheel-to-wheel nerf bars that run the entire length of your truck cab, which offer easy access into the cab and truck bed.

Running boards, on the other hand, are created like a platform with a flatter structure that extends from the underbody near the door. Some products you can find on the market feature non-slip step pads, which help keep the foot firmly on the step. They are made of durable materials, including steel, plastic, aluminum, and fiberglass.

Purpose

Nerf bars and running boards can indeed add a touch of style to any pickup truck. However, to make your pickup truck more practical, stylish, and safe, you must decide which type of install nerf bars or running boards you want in your vehicle.

Nerf bars have slipping resistance to snow, rain, and other factors. They offer sufficient space to step on but will not cover the whole foot. Some manufacturers offer nerf bars with rubber foot grips at each entryway for added slip resistance.

Running boards provide a safer platform to step on compared to the tubular form of nerf bars. They act as a more stable step-up platform, especially for lifted trucks with high ground clearance. Shorter passengers may have trouble getting in and out of a vehicle, so it is beneficial for them to use

Protection coverage

Nerf bards protect the truck from rock chips and other debris you may encounter while driving. Since the truck tires kick up dirt, grime, and debris during travel, you can prevent some of them from scratching or hitting the side panels and doors of your vehicle. Moreover, they can hold up to 500 lbs., which is beneficial when carrying heavy loads.

Running boards act as a doormat to protect the cab flooring, where passengers can wipe dirt off their footwear to remove dust, dirt, snow, or other particles before entering the truck.

Lifestyle

When buying an accessory for your truck, make sure to buy something constructed with durable material strong enough for your lifestyle and driving conditions. In that way, they could last you well over time. Adventurous drivers with playful personalities lean more on choosing nerf bars. On the contrary, serious and attentive drivers prefer running boards.

Improved functionality

Due to the high ground clearance of the truck, it is pretty challenging not only for kids but also for people of all ages to climb the cab and bed of the pickup truck.

Nerf bars can become slippery in cold or wet weather conditions. Wiping off the bars is crucial before you let yourself or your passengers stand on them. The design may also be unsafe for elderly folks and those with mobility difficulties because it can only provide a smaller space to step on. If you compare the prices, nerf bars are more expensive than running boards.

Running boards can get dirty faster because snow and dirt may gather in them. When particles and other debris pile up on the running boards, the dirtier they look. But the advantage of running boards is they offer better traction in snowy or icy conditions than nerf bars. They are also less likely to be damaged by road or off-road debris. Most running board products are bolted onto the underbody of the truck. However, some brands offer a more intricate design because they work as you open the door.

Whether you choose nerf bars or running boards, you must select the one right on your budget. Remember that these truck accessories improve the style, safety, protection, and convenience of your vehicle.

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