Ah, the Great Outdoors. It’s precisely the reason you have a 4WD vehicle. Rocks and ditches, streams and tents – the journey makes it all worthwhile. And your rig is nearly perfect for the job.
You’ve installed skid plates to protect the transfer case from a gaping hole on a granite structure and an LED light bar to turn nighttime into broad daylight. And you’ve also wrenched in a SkyJacker lift kit and 37-inch wheels. Ground clearance for days, friend.
Now there’s a new problem. How do you get into the truck without straining your traps pulling on the ‘oh s**t’ handle? You’ve torn the crotch out of your only three pairs of Wranglers already (at least you’ve got ventilation covered now).
Increased ride height has made entering and exiting your truck or SUV precarious at best, death-defying at worst.
If only there were a way you could permanently affix a step to the side of your truck. It would need to help you with accessing the cabin, but without getting in the way. And of course, you haven’t dumped all this money into your truck for it to look like junk now – the step has to look a whole lot better than a little plastic step from the discount store. Your ride deserves better.
A set of nerf bars from AutoAnything is exactly what you need. And if you think nerf is only foam darts for pre-teens, think again. Nerf bars are for grownups who love their vehicle, and love to spend time outdoors.
What Are Nerf Bars?
The nitty-gritty is that nerf bars are side steps for your truck or SUV. Their purpose is to help you get into your truck and back out of it easier. Whether you wear tight jeans or you’re vertically challenged, you have mobility issues or you just want to keep your pant leg clean, nerf bars are the perfect solution.
What defines side steps as nerf bars is the shape, typically. They’re tubular and either round or oval. The shape helps with strength but mostly it’s for style. Regardless of the shape, you’ll find impressive load-baring limits on these bad boys. Plus, a lot of them even have a grippy spot by each door so you have somewhere to put your foot.
Why Would You Want Nerf Bars?
Do you really need a reason to accessorize your truck? Is there a purpose to the Calvin decal on your back window? Nerf bars add undisputable functionality and an extra touch of awesomeness to your vehicle’s style. And they come in multiple finishing – including fan favorites matte black and chrome – to complement or match your other aftermarket additions.
If you’re the practical sort, there are other great reasons you’d want to put nerf bars on your rig.
- They make getting in and out of the truck easier. It really is a step up, in more ways than one.
- They allow for visibility into the truck bed and a place to stand while you’re looking for your gear back there.
- They help prevent wear and tear on the seats. Because you aren’t dragging your backside across the edge but rather sitting down on the seat, the upholstery will last longer.
- They act as a bufferzone to your paint job, rockers, and doors. They’re bolted to the frame and provide moderate protection from impacts, kickup from those gravel roads you’re bound to be on and more.
Are they Different than Running Boards?
Running boards are also side steps, but they aren’t nerf bars. Running boards do much of the same function, yet their design is completely different.
Running boards are flat all the way across… like a board, actually. Funny how names are so descriptive sometimes. Some people still use the names interchangeably, but now you know…
What About Rock Sliders?
If you want serious protection against the harshest of terrain, rock sliders are the ticket. They’re also in the same side step family, but they’re juiced up a lot. They tie into the vehicle’s frame and body for incredible structural integrity and can withstand the pounding hardcore offroaders will put them through.
But rock sliders don’t always incorporate a side step function. They do look tough as nails, and you’ll have the ultimate protection. But for camping or overlanding, they may be overkill. In many cases, they need to be welded to your frame. You’ll also pay much more for rock sliders than nerf bars.
What to Consider When Choosing Nerf Bars
Trust us, nerf bars are the best choice for almost everyone. And when you’re picking out the right set for your truck or offroading rig, there are a few things to consider.
The look is important, right? Nerf bars come in classic finishes like chrome plating, black powder coating, matte black paint, and polished aluminum or stainless steel to suit nearly every vehicle.
You’ll have options for the shape, and no one shape is necessarily better than the other. Tubes can be round or oval-shaped. And of those two shapes, there are three designs to pick between for how the nerf bars look at the ends: straight, bent, and curved.
Here’s a big factor – how secure your foot can grip the nerf bar when you step on it. Most nerf bars have plastic step covers or grippy sections secured to the top of the bar. Others have a depression with texture on the footbed.
Size matters, we’re told. You’ll find selections in 3” diameter up to 6” diameter, or more. Strength increases with size, but it ultimately comes down to personal preference.
The other question relating to size is length. How far do you want the nerf bars to go? You can buy a set that mount the cab length only, find steps for under each door, or you can look for wheel to wheel nerf bars that fit between the wheel wells.
Our Seven Picks for the Best Nerf Bars
For camping enthusiasts and overlanders of all experience levels, we’ve picked seven of the nerf bars we think would serve you best, all available now from AutoAnything.com.
1. Westin Pro Traxx 4″ Oval Nerf Bars
From $168.53 per pair
Westin makes a great nerf bar, especially for the price you pay. The Westin Pro Trax 4” Oval Nerf Bars are cab length and available in either black powder-coated mild steel or polished stainless steel, depending what you like. You can get them in straight, bent, or angled styles.
What makes these ones unique is that the ends are enclosed seamlessly rather than finished with a plastic cap. A sturdy black plastic step gives you a good foothold. And they boast a no-drill installation, too.
As an example, cab-length black 2016 Toyota 4Runner nerf bars will run you $343.79 for a set. To top it off, Westin covers the powder-coated version for three years and the stainless steel with a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
2. Aries 4″ Oval Nerf Bars
From $165.35 per pair
Another highly-rated set of nerf bars is from reputable accessories company Aries. These Aries 4” Oval Nerf Bars are custom fit for your vehicle based on its wheelbase and existing mounting holes, so it’s a no-drill installation. They’re available in T304 stainless steel and black powder-coated carbon steel, depending on the look you’re going for. Domed ends are seamless, preventing unsightly corrosion from water penetration on your journey in the backcountry.
Non-slip polymer step pads are a nice touch and line up perfectly under each door. Aries has rated these nerf bars capable of bearing 300 pounds, so they’re strong, too.
Black-finished nerf bars are covered by a three-year finish warranty while the stainless steel version are a Limited Lifetime coverage.
3. RBP 3″ RX-3 Series Round Nerf Bars
From $599.00 per pair
Normally, tube size is an indicator of strength. RBP defies that logic. The RBP 3” RX-3 Series Round Nerf Bars are outlandishly strong, but you can tell that from first glance. Not only do they have a solid tube that protects the rockers, but the step is an additional tube welded on. It has diamond-plate patterned step section. And, really, is there any indicator of strength that supersedes diamond plate?
The RX-3 Series nerf bars are cab length, made of 14-gauge marine-grade steel, and are corrosion protected. They can bear 450 pounds per side, or two average sized adults. They’re the closest thing to rock sliders without going the next step. You know they’re serious business when the only true Jeep nerf bar options are for the Wrangler.
Even better? They’re covered under warranty for one year.
4. AutoAnything SELECT 5″ Oval Nerf Bars
From $276.47 per pair
These are your classic nerf bars. AutoAnything SELECT 5” Oval Nerf Bars are the perfect fit for 90% of buyers. Made of either T304 polished stainless steel or black carbon-powdered carbon steel, and available with either straight or curved bar ends. You get full function with rugged appeal.
Custom fit for your truck or SUV, AutoAnything SELECT nerf bars are easy to install with existing holes. They have fully-enclosed ends rather than plastic caps, sealing out damaging moisture.
Like usual, the black finish is covered for three years while the stainless steel nerf bars’ finish is covered by a Limited Lifetime warranty.
5. Lund 4″ Oval Nerf Bars
From $166.59 per pair
An affordable option from a trusted name, these Lund 4” Oval Nerf Bars are extremely popular. While you’re busting out the camping gear from your backseat, you’ll have no problem bearing more than your full weight on these nerf bars with their 350-pound capacity. They’re made of high-quality T304 stainless steel or black powder-coated mild steel, and are a custom fit for your rig using existing bolt holes.
Keeping things simple, these Lund nerf bars are straight bars with durable plastic end caps. And they’re covered by a Limited Lifetime Warranty on both finishes – black and stainless.
6. Steelcraft 5″ Premium Oval Nerf Bars
From $299.39 per pair
Another classic nerf bar style, Steelcraft 5” Premium Oval Nerf Bars are a high-quality option you should consider. Things get pretty wild when you’re off the beaten path, and these 5” bars can hold up to their fair share of abuse. Both T304 stainless steel and black powder-coated carbon steel options are available in a curved style, as well as wheel to wheel nerf bars for select models. The ends are welded for a seamless look and fantastic durability.
If you’re blazing a trail in the backcountry, Tacoma nerf bars in this style start at under $300 for the powder-coated finish.
Steelcraft makes it easy to install these nerf bars with custom-fit brackets and no-drill hardware. They’re backed by a three-year warranty, no matter the style and/or finish.
7. Luverne 3″ Round Nerf Bars
From $148.71 per pair
You don’t need to blow the budget to get a decent set of nerf bars on your rig. Luverne 3” Round Nerf Bars are a no-nonsense wallet-friendly option that gets you in the game with as little skin as possible. They feature a curved-end design that tucks under the rockers, and they come in your choice of polished stainless steel or matte black and cab-length or wheel-to-wheel.
For most vehicles, installation is with factory-equipped holes although drilling may be required on select models. You get a one-year finish warranty on the black nerf bars while the stainless steel, once again, gets a Limited Lifetime warranty.
To Sum It Up…
No overlanding SUV or truck is complete without a set of side steps, and we think the best bang for your bank is nerf bars. Whether you choose one of our seven favorite styles or another set from popular brands like Lund, Westin, and Aries, you’ll find just the nerf bars you need, well-priced and fully-stocked at AutoAnything.