Written By
Published Oct. 12, 2021

Truck owners want their trucks to look good and perform well. Part of great performance is the ease of use; if you can’t easily climb into your truck, it isn’t performing. What you might need is a running board or nerf bar that’s going to give you a solid platform to step on as well as offer protection and give your rig that cool factor. Whether you’re a running-board fan or nerf-bar supporter, give these some consideration.

One of the most notable features of Tyger Auto’s Star Auto nerf bars is the dual-stage black powdercoat that gives these bars a subdued appearance that is nice to look at but primarily fights corrosion and damage. The coating also covers the bar’s triple-tube design, which is engineered to offer you a step into your truck that won’t flinch.

With a weight capacity of 500 pounds, you’ll feel secure stepping onto this two-inch tube forged from carbon steel. Tyger Auto designed these to be do-it-yourself friendly, with easy installation instructions and minor drilling giving you the option to upgrade on your own. While the link we’ve selected fits select Ram 1500 pickups, these bars are available to fit most trucks and SUVs. They are expensive, however.

Specs
  • Brand Tyger Auto
  • Model TG-AM2D20078
  • Weight 91 pounds
PROS

High weight capacity

Corrosion-resistant powder coat

Matches other Tyger Auto Star Armor products

One-piece design

CONS

High price point

Some drilling may be required

Best Value

Not everyone wants to shell out an arm or leg to upgrade their truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for something subpar. These nerf bars from MaxMate offer the perfect solution. Constructed from oval steel tubing, they feature welded end caps to prevent dirt, debris, and weather from getting inside and corroding your steps, a routine issue with many OEM-supplied nerf bars and running boards.

Another benefit to these nerf bars is their four-inch oval tubing, which provides a wide footpad for solid footing. MaxMate also added non-slip and UV-resistant pads to offer even better foot traction no matter the weather. And these straight nerf bars add a sophisticated look to any truck or SUV. That said, MaxMate doesn’t offer up a weight rating for these nerf bars, and drilling into your truck may be required, depending on your application.

Specs
  • Brand MaxMate
  • Model WB2D41127
  • Weight 45.6 pounds
PROS

Affordable pricing

Four-inch step offers superb footing

Non-slip and UV-resistant pads

CONS

No weight capacity listed

Some drilling may be required

If you’ve been around the off-roading world, you’ve probably heard of Rough Country’s off-road accessories. Don’t be fooled by all the Jeeps sporting the company’s equipment; these running boards are meant for trucks, too, and these particular boards are a great premium option. An all-steel construction and designed with a reinforced mounting system, these boards can hold up to 400 pounds, which is higher than most running boards.

Rough Country also designed these running boards to be wider, beefier, and more aggressive than the average running board for better overall footing and to handle off-roading environments. And with an attractive design, whether you’ve got a work truck, a pavement dweller, or an overlanding beast, these boards will add that wow factor without caving under the pressure. They are very expensive, however, and drilling is necessary, so you’ll want to measure twice and drill once.

Specs
  • Brand Rough Country
  • Model HD2
  • Weight 66.7 pounds
PROS

Heavy-duty construction

Wide steps the full cab length

400-pound weight limit

CONS

High price point

Some drilling required

Easiest DIY Installation

Nothing is worse than ordering something designed specifically for your truck only to have to modify the part upon installation. And if you’re spending good money to upgrade your rig, it makes sense that you’d want it to be as hassle free as possible. These four-inch-wide running boards by Tyger Auto make that a reality.

Constructed from carbon steel, these boards feature unique triangular tubing that makes them stronger than traditional flat boards. And the special E-coat does more than give these boards a nifty matte-black appearance. It also fights corrosion and damage on the inside as well as the outside. Each step features a non-slip and UV-resistant pad, too, that’ll hold you steady without fading. The boards don’t run the full length of the cab, however, and the weight rating isn’t listed.

Specs
  • Brand Tyger Auto
  • Model TG-RS2D40078
  • Weight 36 pounds
PROS

Lightweight and easy to install

Affordable pricing

Backed by a five-year warranty

CONS

Doesn’t run full cab length

Weight capacity not listed

The evolution of materials, manufacturing processes, and society’s tastes add up to the APS iBoard. These running boards are sleek, inspired by the smartphones we carry. Constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum that has been machined from a single block, the iBoard offers a five-inch platform that runs the full length of the cab, making entry and exit easy.

The boards also sport a non-slip surface that keeps your footing stable and secure. While stepping into your truck isn’t really about looks, your truck doesn’t have to look barbaric either. There are some issues with these boards, as they can only hold up to 300 pounds a piece, and they don’t offer the protection of those made of steel. They’re also expensive for what they are.

Specs
  • Brand APS
  • Model IB-D5208A
  • Weight 22.4 pounds
PROS

Sleek, contemporary design

Moderate pricing

Lighter weight option

CONS

Only hold 300 pounds

Doesn’t offer as much protection as steel boards/bars

How We Selected the Best Running Boards

We carefully selected running boards and nerf bars based on performance criteria, price point, and their respective brand’s history of reliability. Running boards and nerf bars are generally made to fit specific truck makes, models, and years. To give the best comparison, we selected boards and bars for popular vehicles. We avoided selecting products that were part of a bundle or with extravagant pricing. The price point was chosen to be affordable for the average truck owner. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

It may be time to upgrade that truck of yours by giving it a set of running boards or nerf bars. To find the right ones for your truck, we gathered the information you need to know to make a good decision. When you’re shopping for your new upgrade, keep these tidbits in mind. 

What to Consider When Buying Running Boards and Nerf Bars

Types

Running Boards

Traditionally, running boards run between the truck’s wheel wells and offer footing across the whole side of the vehicle. 

Nerf Bars

Unlike running boards, nerf bars don’t have to cover the full length of the cab and often only offer step pads where the driver or passenger would step into and out of the vehicle. They generally look like a tube or bar with step pads. 

Running Board & Nerf Bar Key Features

Length

One of the most important factors is the length of the board or bar. Not all running boards or nerf bars are made to run the full length of the cab. A full-length bar can make it appear to be a natural extension of the truck. They also offer the most surface area to step on. Shorter lengths offer less surface area but can be a cost-effective solution. 

Width

The second most important factor to consider is the width of the surface area. The wider a step is, the more secure footing you’ll have when utilizing it. Flat running boards and oval tubing tend to offer the widest surfaces and best footing. 

Step

When tubing becomes wet or covered in mud and dirt, it becomes slippery. It’s vital for your safety and the safety of others that you choose a stepping surface that prevents such hazards. Rubber non-slip pads or textured powdercoats are great options the majority of boards and bars offer. 

FAQs

Q: Will it void my truck’s warranty if I install nerf bars or running boards? 

We strongly encourage thoroughly reading your warranty before installing any aftermarket products on your vehicle, and that includes running boards and nerf bars.

Q: Should I get nerf bars or running boards?

The choice is yours. It’ll depend on your application and your truck. 

Q: Can I get just any running board or nerf bar? 

Almost all running boards and nerf bars are specifically designed to fit certain makes, models, and years of vehicles. Read the product description carefully to ensure that what you buy fits your vehicle.

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