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Everything You've Ever wanted to Know about Step Bars, Running Boards, and Rock Sliders

Everything You've Ever wanted to Know about Step Bars, Running Boards, and Rock Sliders

Looking for a Leg Up?

Check out these Step Bars, Running Boards, and Rock Sliders

Whether you are in need of a step bar,Nerf Step Bar or Running Board or Rock Slider: Which do you really want? a running board, or a rock slider, you’ve come to the right place. We have everything you need to get a step up into your cab on your truck, Jeep, or SUV, right here. The questions may well be, which is which, and which to you need? Don’t worry. We can help. So there will be concerns about style, color, material, and even shape of your new running board or step bar. Maybe you need some running boards for your Chevy Silverado? Or it could be you’re rocking a Ford F-150? How about a Jeep JK? Either way, we’ve got the bar or board for you. With that, let’s get started.

What types of step bars are there?

How many different types of nerf step bars are on the market?

  • Tube Step Bars--often oval or round
  • Hoop Steps--a bar with a hoop to step on
  • Running Boards--straight step board
  • Power Running Boards--an automated board that raises and lowers
  • Truck Bed Steps--a single individual step
  • Rock Sliders--not Steps exactly but often associated with them

Let’s Review All the Best Step Bar and Running Board Types

What is a “Nerf” exactly?

Who put the “nerf” in the nerf step bar?

“Nerf” is an old school racing term for when two racers bump or “nerf” each other. Such minor collisions are common still in racing. Before nerf bars, a “nerf” could involve two vehicle's wheels colliding and launching one into the air, often leading to major damage.

Nerf bars were the solution. And in many ways, Nerf bars still are about protecting your vehicle, though for most of us that is less about racing on the track and more about dings and dents from parking lots and kids flinging open car doors haphazardly. Don’t even get me started on those kids!

The Most Iconic Step BarsToday we don’t simply have Nerf bars, but rather Nerf step bars, meaning they protect your vehicle from minor scrapes but also act as a step up into the cab or on a truck so you can reach into the bed more easily. Step bars come in a variety of shapes and sizes, such as:

  • Hoops Steps
  • Round Steps
  • Oval Steps

Each describes the shape of the bar. Most are listed with an inch rating in front, and this explains how big the step area is in width. Higher the number, bigger the step bar.

Length of the Step Bar or Board

Finally, there will be a length rating. Some bars and boards for trucks are only “cab length” A cab length step bar from Raptormeaning they run the length of the cab only, while others are “wheel-to-wheel” meaning, the obvious: they run the full length, from one wheel to the other. This allows the user to easily step up to retrieve or stow objects in the bed of the truck as well as getting in and out of the cab with ease. Some popular Oval and Round style step bars include: Lund and Raptor.




Above is a “cab length” step bar from Raptor.

While the length you select is really up to you, some things to consider are whether or not you want to be able to step up and reach into the front of your truck bed more easily. If that’s something you are interested in, it is likely worth a few extra bucks to get the “wheel-to-wheel” length.

And here’s a “wheel-to-wheel” step bar made by Lund:

Another A Wheel to Wheel nerf bar from Lundaspect to consider is what cab size you have. Regardless of the length you choose, you will need to know what cab size you have as well as your make and model in order to match the bar or board with your vehicle. A crew cab “cab length” nerf bar isn’t going to fit on a standard cab truck, for instance. Each bar or board is custom made to fit your make, model, and cab size, even if you go with the “wheel-to-wheel” option.

Hooping It Up

Hoop Step Bars have typically one or two hoops or sections of the bar that extend below the main bar and form a step. In this way they are similar to Oval and Round styles; however, many consumers like them for their low-profile look. When standing next to a truck with a hoop step bar you may only notice the hoop part as being visible. Lots of truck drivers like this aesthetic appeal.

The Most Iconic and the O.G. in Hoop Steps is N-Fab:

Others preferThe Predator Pro Aluminum Hoop Step from N-Fab this style because the hoop step holds your shoe better, preventing slippage. Really all step bars tend to come with grooved step pads to help prevent this. Again, some of these decisions are based upon look and feel. We have some great offerings in hoop step bars including: ICI Magnum RT, N-Fab, and Rampage.

Iron Cross Side Arms for that Unique Look

For a step bar thatIron Cross Side Arm Steps isn’t quite a hoop but isn’t quite a step, check out the innovative new Iron Cross Side Arm Step Bars. These half hoop steps provide all the great benefits of the hoop step with a unique design that will make your ride stand out in a crowd. If all your buddies are rocking hoop steps or Oval Step Bars, pick up a pair of these and show them how it’s really done.

On top of being a really great step bar, Side Arms and all Iron Cross products are made right here in the US.

Running Boards

These bad boys are less about protecting your doors from dings and more about just providing a step up into your vehicle. Many users like Running Boards because there is no specific designated place you have to step on the board to get into the cab. You can step up anywhere you’d like. If you are just looking for a dedicated way to get a step up into the vehicle, these are great options: Lund, N-Fab, Westin, and Raptor. Lookin' for running boards for your Chevy Silverado? We've got 'em!

Running boards, just like nerf step bars, come in a variety of lengths and are custom made to fit your make, model, and cab size. Make sure you have this information available when placing an order, so you get the running board that is the perfect fit for your truck or Jeep.

Power Running Boards

A higher end variant on the traditional running board, a Power or Powered Running Board is a motorized board that will “hide” or tuck itself up under the cab of the vehicle when not in use. Two of the top models on the Line today are the AMP Research POWERSTEP and Aries ActionTrac, both of which automatically lowers itself when the door to your truck or Jeep is opened. Pretty sexy, if you ask me.

Many customersActionTrac by Aries: a powered running board find that this added benefit is not only really cool, but it also protects the motorized running board from the elements and various dings and dents that you might encounter on the road. Also, these items aren’t quite as common as a standard running board or nerf bar, so if you want to be unique and impress your bros, then Powered Running Boards are a great product for you and your ride.

Check out the ActionTrac in… well… action above. It has two, count ‘em--TWO steps, to help you get into even the most lifted of cabs.

The Originalthe AMP Research Powerstep, the original powered running board Powered Running Board still turns heads and takes names. Check out AMP Research POWERSTEP.

Story Time with the Parts Professor: Step Bars

Don’t be like me; Learn from me

So this one time… at band camp…

Just playing. This one starts at a bar. And it was a long, long time ago, and far, far away. This was before I was a professor, and certainly before I knew a lot about truck and Jeep parts. So I was at this bar one time, in… let’s say… San Antonio, Texas.

I had been partying with friends, hopping from one place along the River Walk to the next. And you know how it goes. You lose your buddies or they lose you, and you end up sitting alone up at the bar, and maybe you’ve had a few brews. Just a few.

So being the slick young man in his mid twenties, I thought I’m pretty smooth. I could call a cab or I could get myself a ride home with a young lady. Score. Or so I thought.

I’d been chatting up this blonde gal sporting a red trucker hat. Different times, back in the day. We’d been throwing back Mexican beers and chatting about music. This was after that brunette tricked me into buying her and her “girlfriend” a round. Fun times in San Antone.

Anyway, one thing leads to another, and guess what: I got my ride. Blondie invites me back to her place. So as we saunter outside, I see this lifted F-150 sitting on 20 inch rims. And she tells me to climb on in. I do a double take at how this gal who couldn’t be taller than 5’ 7 could get into this big ass truck. And frankly, I’m still not sure. But she got in just fine.

Now I’d like to blame it on her pickups clear lack of step bars, but let’s be honest. There were a few too many beers involved too. And after I feel on my ass trying to get into her cab, that young lady laughed pretty hard but still offered me a ride. So, you know, I can’t really complain.

Here’s the lesson: if you’re gonna lift your truck, you definitely need step bars or running boards, cause otherwise some guy you’re trying to pick up might fall on his ass trying to get into your truck. Er… You know what I meant. Point is, these products make it that much easier to get in and out of your truck, especially when you’re three sheets to the wind.

And now for something slightly different:

Rock Sliders

A category all its own,A set of rock sliders for your Jeep maybe Rock Sliders are meant to protect your undercarriage and doors when you go off-roading. Aptly named, these metal bars are designed to help your vehicle negotiate and slide off large rocks and boulders should you ever find yourself indisposed, a.k.a. stuck.

Many Jeep owners looking to upgrade their stock vehicles opt for these puppies. While they aren’t actually step bars, people often associate them with nerf bars because of their nerfy qualities. We carry several great models from Lund, MBRP, and N-Fab.

If you off-road regularly in your Jeep, these Rock Sliders are a must. They protect your undercarriage and your door panels. So definitely consider an upgrade. Your Jeep will thank you for it.

Individual Steps

Sometimes we get customers who just want a single step up into their cab or the bed of their truck. These Individual Truck Bed Steps and Hitch Steps are perfect for that function. Nothing like finding out you lifted your truck so high that you now need a step to get into the cab and into the bed. We’ve all been there. Feels like only yesterday that I lifted my first Chevy so high I about fell on my ass trying to climb into her. Good times. Good times. Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with this one too.

Many individual steps can be mounted in a variety of locations, so make sure to do your research and maybe… just maybe, even look under your truck’s bed where you are planning to mount the step before ordering. This could save you a huge headache in the long run.

Also, some individual steps are stationary, while some are retractable or foldable. Make sure you get the step you actually want. The one you really need!

Steppin’ Up

Regardless of which you’re in the market for, we’ve got a number of excellent products and styles to choose from. Should you have any questions at all, hit us up on Live Chat, via email, or over the phone. There’s always a friendly customer service representative waiting to answer any and all of your step bar related queries.

Midwest Aftermarket's collection of step bars, Jeep nerf bars, truck running boards, and much more includes all the leading styles and brands. Midwest Aftermarket is the #1 online retailer for aftermarket truck and Jeep accessories, selling products at the lowest prices and providing the best customer service in the industry. With the goal to provide the highest quality product with the fastest shipping at affordable prices, look no further for your vehicle’s aftermarket accessories. From UTV’s to Jeep-fanatics to F150’s or Chevy Silverado’s, Midwest Aftermarket will give you the customer support you deserve and the products you need.

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