Running Boards & Nerf Bars: Which One To Buy For Your Truck?

6 min readDec 6, 2021

There are times when it gets difficult for passengers to enter and exit their vehicles. This problem is common for large and lifted pickup trucks with taller ride height and ground clearance. Good thing there’s a simple and quick solution to this problem.

Running boards and nerf bars are truck accessories that provide a safe and secure stepping area to help you easily get in and out of your vehicle. These accessories come in handy for both lifestyle and workhorse pickup trucks used as family vehicles. Running boards and nerf bars are similar in making your truck’s cabin more accessible. Still, there are noticeable key differences that make them unique from one another. It is important to be familiar with their distinct features to know which type of accessory is the most suitable for your needs.

Running Boards

Running boards provide adequate stepping space for entering and exiting your truck. They are wide flat surface boards attached right below the truck’s doors ranging from four inches or wider and run the length of the cab. They are usually made of various materials such as aluminum, steel, composite plastic, fiberglass, or a combination. Running boards also have an electrical alternative that deploys whenever you open the door and retract and stow to the cab when not in use. These boards can come down as low as 10 inches, providing an excellent drop distance to make it easier for passengers to step in.


  • The surface of running boards is flat and wide to ensure secure footing, and you can stand on it firmly when stepping in.
  • They feature non-slip step pads that help prevent slips caused by water and mud.
  • Running boards drop down, making it easier for all passengers, including children, to climb inside the truck cabin.
  • More streamlined and integrated into the truck cab and appear noticeable to passengers.
  • They are durable and can endure weather conditions like snow and rain and road elements like dirt and mud.
  • Additional protection for the truck’s exterior paint, underside, and doors from rocks and debris flinging from the ground.
  • Can keep your interior clean. The surface acts like a doormat where you can wipe or scrape dirt or mud off your shoes before entering the cabin.
  • Easy to install and comes in different styles and sizes, including electric and retractable models.


  • They quickly accumulate dirt, mud, debris, and snow that require constant cleaning.
  • Prone to wear and tear over time.
  • Some steel running boards are susceptible to corrosion, even with powder coating.
  • Compromise ground clearance for those non-retractable models. They can also get in the way when off-roading.

Recommended Running Boards

1. Westin Sure-Grip Running Boards Brite Aluminum

The Westin Sure-Grip Brite Aluminum is an inexpensive and high-quality running board. It is compatible with modern pickup trucks with a universal length that fits different types of truck cabs. It features a 4.5 wide rubberized step surface for secure footing. It also includes heavy-duty molded polymer end caps and corrosion-resistant extruded aluminum base-board that can withstand harsh road elements. It offers optional LED lighting to increase visibility during the night. It is a good running board to consider for something simple that won’t affect the overall look of your truck. However, vehicle-specific mounting brackets are required, and they are sold separately.

2. Romik Running Boards

Romik running board is made from 100% aircraft-quality stainless steel. It is a rigid running board that combines form and function for an affordable price. It features a wide anti-slip surface that provides stable and secure footing that can firmly support passengers climbing inside the truck. It is easy to install with its no-drill bolt-on feature.

3. AMP Research PowerStep Running Board

The AMP Research PowerStep is a highly-recommended electrical running board. It deploys a convenient stepping board the second the door opens. It automatically retracts and tucks itself hidden to the rocker panel for safety when you close the door. This running board is ideal for lifted trucks. It can extend further down for easy passenger access without losing ground clearance. It is made of extruded aluminum stepping surface with full-length internal ribs that can support up to 600 lbs of weight on each side. It also includes a low-profile integrated LED light and maintenance-free, self-lubricating bushings for all weather conditions.

Nerf Bars

Nerf bars are originally used in racing as a tubular or pipe-like fixture on both sides of the racecar’s body. Nerf bars allow these cars to maneuver and pass other racers during a race safely. It also prevents their tires from rubbing against each other, leading to spinning out of control or flipping over. Trucks and even SUVs adopted the use of nerf bars. They protect these vehicles from getting dents and scratches from impacts made by rocks and other road debris while driving. They are made of carbon and stainless steel, with some models made of aluminum.

Like with the running boards, nerf bars allows passengers to enter and exit the vehicle. Nerf bars differ from running boards because of their style and shape. Running boards are the better choice for functionality as it provides a wider surface area for you to step in. On the contrary, nerf bars are a more rugged and sports-oriented stepping surface, usually round and narrow in shape.


  • They have a lowered stepping area for lifted trucks.
  • They have a sleek and sporty appearance fitting for off-road vehicles that can blend seamlessly with your truck’s exterior.
  • Ideal for off-roading as they can effectively protect the sides and undercarriage of the truck from terrain debris caught and tossed by the tires.
  • Have multiple options like cab length, wheel-to-wheel for side truck bed access, oval tube, sport tubes, and single step.
  • Their tubular shape prevents the accumulation of dirt, mud, and snow.
  • They offer rubber foot grips for extra slip resistance at each entry.
  • Can support more than 500lbs of weight.
  • Can also be used to wipe away mud and dirt off their shoes before entering the cabin.
  • Most nerf bars are easy to install by attaching them to the rocker panel using bolts and brackets requiring no drilling.


  • Some nerf bars are too sleek and narrow to provide sufficient surface area for stepping.
  • Nerf bars can get slippery in cold and wet weather conditions. Wiping off the bars to ensure safety and prevent slipping is required.
  • They lower the ground clearance for non-lifted trucks.

Recommended Nerf Bars

1. N-Fab Cab Length Step Nerf Bars

N-Fab nerf bars are a popular choice among truck owners. The Cab Length Step nerf bar is made of one-piece non-modular construction full 3 inches tube that features drop-down steps with step pads. It can endure beatings from off-roading and can support 455 lbs of weight. The style complements heavily modified trucks with lifted suspension and bigger tires. Its cab length is ideal for those who own a camper, flatbed, and utility-style bed.

2. Westin E-Series Nerf Bars

The Westin E-Series nerf bars have an eye-catching design with 3-inch step bars built for functionality and durability. It features recessed step pads with excellent traction that can firmly support passengers’ feet when getting in and out of the truck. It comes with either a polished stainless or black powder coat finish. This nerf bar has a rigid construction and a more traditional styling. The installation is fast and easy, with no drilling required. It is very affordable compared to other nerf bars in the market.

3. Aries 3″ Black Nerf Bars

Aries Black nerf bar is a 3″ diameter thick-walled tubing made of heavy-duty stainless steel. It is a functional footing with non-skid step custom-positioned step pads that provides surface grip and prevent slips. It can handle and protect your truck from anything the trail throws at it. Each set is customized and bent to contour your truck, accenting its exterior.

Both running boards and nerf bars serve their purpose of providing an area for secured stepping to enter and exit the truck’s cab easily. There are plenty of choices for both running boards and nerf bars available in the market. Choosing which one to buy between the two will depend on your preferred style and features that will add extra elements to your truck.

Originally published at on November 18, 2021




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