Nerf Bars vs. Truck steps

What’s the real difference?

So, in keeping with the theme of your “new truck”, let’s talk about nerf bars and truck steps (running boards). What are the differences, and which ones will work best for you? To answer this, you need to know what they both really are and then go with what fits your needs the best.


The definition of a nerf bar is: “A tubular steel bumper on some racing cars to keep wheels from touching when cars bump during a race”. Keep in mind that a “nerf” is a small, sometimes intentional collision. In the late 60’s and 70’s as the off road world was coming into its own, it was a normal practice for off roaders to build these steel tubes and mount them on the sides of their trucks for body protection from these “nerfs”. As a side benefit, it made it easier to get into their lifted trucks, and the nerf bar was born. With the simple addition of step pads at the points of entry, Nerf Bars turned into one of the most popular truck and SUV accessories today.

Running Boards

Now that you know what a nerf bar is, and how it came to be, let’s look at running boards. Mr. Webster had this simple little bit to say about running boards: “a long, narrow board that is attached to the side of a vehicle to make it easier for people to get in and out of a vehicle”. So, they were used to get in and out of a vehicle, but they were also a fashion statement. Let’s face it, getting into a Duesenberg back in 1932 would have simple. The running board has faded away from the cars they once were on, just think Bonnie and Clyde, but are still a staple of today’s truck world.   The styles have changed a lot over the years, but the functionality has stayed the same, a safe and simple way to get in and out of your truck.


As both have changed so much over the decades, it really comes down to style. Yes, nerf bars are stronger, but the main reason for either comes down getting in and out of your truck. They both get the job done, but does a 3’ steel tube look right on the side of a 2015 Cadillac Escalade? No, just like aluminum running boards don’t look correct on a 94 Chevy with a 6” lift.

So please people, pick responsibly - you owe it to your kids, spouses and everyone who has to see your new truck.

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