Side Steps vs. Rock Sliders vs. Nerf Bars vs. Running Boards

Avatar Offroad VS30 Sprinter side steps running boards

Side steps, running boards, nerf bars, and rock sliders, what are they and how do they differ? In this article we will discuss how they vary in functionality, aesthetics, and how they physically mount to your van or truck. 

What are side steps?

The term side step is just the generic term the industry uses to describe any sort of aid to stepping up into your van. Nerf bars and running boards have become synonymous in the side step world.  Although the origins of these names are different they offer the same advantage of helping one step into their van or truck more easily.

Pros and cons of side steps.

 If there is a disadvantage it is that one loses a little ground clearance.

The advantages are many, but the main advantage is protecting the van body from damage and making it much easier to climb aboard your vehicle.

What are rock sliders? 

Rock sliders were designed for the Jeep world to not only protect the underside of ones vehicle but also make it possible to deflect the truck around obstacles.  Most “rocksliders” are welded or at least securely bolted directly to the frame.  Rocksliders are almost always made from a thick steel and really need to be welded on to perform as designed.  This is simply overkill for most applications but a must if you are rockcrawling with your vehicle.  

Pros and cons of rock sliders. 

Cons are they are very heavy and expensive to ship.

Pros are they will protect your truck better than any other option if they are mounted correctly

What are running boards? 

 Why are they called running boards. There seems to be a lot of speculation about where this term comes from but in the end they are just side steps with a different name.  They help one get in the vehicle with a step that is lower than the entrance to the truck or van.  I personally believe it has to do with people “running” to jump into the vehicle perhaps while it was moving. Or maybe it is simply that they “run” the length of the truck.  Call them what you want if they help you get in your truck that is all anyone can ask of them.

Pros and cons of running boards. 

The cons of any side step or running board is that one loses a little ground clearance.

The pros are they make getting in and out of the truck easier and they look cool.

What are nerf bars? 

Nerf bars get their name from their origin in racing. A nerf bar is usually a tubular device fitted to the side of a van, truck, or race car to protect the vehicle and driver.  A “nerf” is a small, sometimes intentional, collision between two cars in which one driver bumps the other to facilitate a successful pass. In today’s world they are simply another name for side steps, only they sound cooler.  Just about anything that rhymes with surf is going to be cooler.

Pros and cons of nerf bars. 

The cons are the same as above, any side step or running board is that one loses a little ground clearance.

The pros are they make getting in and out of the truck easier and they look cool.

So whats better: Side steps, running boards, nerf bars, or rock sliders?

It really comes down to what your specific needs are and what esthetic you want to add to your truck or van.

Avatar Sprinter Drop Side Steps

Avatar Offroad Products:

Sprinter Van Side Steps / Running Boards

Nissan NV3500 Side Steps / Running Boards

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