Nerf bars and running boards are two different types of side rails.
Nerf bars, as the name suggests, feature a curved design that hugs the vehicle’s body for easier entry and exit.
Running boards, on the other hand, typically offer increased foot clearance to make getting in and out of cars more comfortable.
But which one is better – which should you choose?
In order to answer this question, it’s important to know what each type offers so we can determine their individual pros and cons then compare them against our personal needs.
What exactly is a nerf bar anyway? The name comes from the original use of these side rails for protection. Since the unit is curved it protects passengers from getting banged or bruised by protruding parts of the vehicle. One common use for this side rail design was on World War II Jeeps to protect the soldiers running along beside them (hence where they got their name). Naturally, these days nerf bars are used purely for decoration, but they still do a good job of protecting the side of your vehicle from damage.
Nerf bars are typically made from aluminum or stainless steel and come in a variety of colors to match your chosen style. In addition to the two examples previously mentioned, other common nerf bar styles include these with light bars for additional illumination while off-roading and step bars to make getting in and out of your vehicle easier.
The Pros and Cons of Nerf Bars
Nerf bars offer two major benefits: style and protection. These side rails can be made of various materials to suit your taste with the most common being aluminum and steel. They typically come in a variety of colors, such as black, bronze, dark blue, silver, and gold.
The position of nerf bars also makes getting in and out of your vehicle easier. Drivers don’t have to worry about getting scraped up on protruding parts on their body as they do with the running boards-plus they look really good!
While nerf bars offer a lot of perks, they still have some downsides. One issue that many people report is that not all vehicles come with the appropriate space for installation. If there isn’t the necessary clearance, then these side rails won’t work.
These units can also make it more difficult to load larger items in your trunk as access becomes limited with such a high accessory installed on the body of your vehicle (so don’t use nerf bars when hauling something like a kayak).
Another problem they can pose is scratches and dings on your vehicle. This can result from insufficient mounting space or impacts with other vehicles in the parking lot if not installed properly.
The running board is a staple of many vehicles, particularly those common before 1996. This component has been around for decades and was often found on trucks, vans, and cars throughout the 90s. They are designed to sit along the rocker panels of your vehicle, offering increased foot space while also protecting against dings and scratches. One common style for this side rail is stamped steel, which typically carries an affordable price tag. Another type that has recently become more popular with trucks and SUVs is a model with tubular steel construction. This model is a bit more expensive but will last much longer, making it ideal for commercial vehicles. Check out our guide to the best running boards for Dodge RAM 1500 here.
With these side rails installed you’ll be able to get in and out of your car without having to worry about scraping your shoes or bumping into other, protruding parts on your ride’s body. Not only is this accessory highly functional, but it also makes your vehicle look sharp!
The Pros and Cons of Running Boards
Running boards are an affordable way to protect your ride from minor dings and scratches while also offering increased foot space. If you’ve taken a walk around any parking lot you’ll see that they can often be found on popular vehicles such as trucks and SUVs like Toyota Tacoma.
These units are typically made of durable stamped steel, but there are also styles that utilize more heavy-duty tubular steel for increased strength and durability (if you’re using it on a commercial vehicle such as a delivery truck).
One other benefit to these side rails is how simple they are to install. Thanks to their minimal frame, they’re easy to attach without much hassle.
As previously mentioned, there are still downsides of running boards. These side rails can protrude out further than nerf bars, which increases the likelihood of them causing damage if not secured properly during installation. This is often due to space issues so make sure you lookout for this problem during set-up.
Running boards can also be easily stolen because they are made of steel and aluminum, which is quite valuable to scrap yards. Because of their accessibility, it’s important to purchase a model with security screws so you can prevent thieves from taking your side rails off. This will ensure safety while making sure your boards don’t walk away on their own!
One downside of running boards is that they can be difficult for shorter people to step onto-especially if their feet don’t hit it just right. But what you gain in ease of entry, you lose in style points. Running boards do not look as sleek and attractive as nerf bars do.
Nerf Bars vs. Running Boards – Which is Better?
So which one is better? Which should you choose?
When it comes down to choosing between these two accessories, neither one is right or wrong. They’re just different styles that both provide correct functionality for a vehicle.
It really depends on your personal preferences. Both the nerf bar and running board offer benefits to your vehicle. The main difference is the style. So you need to consider your style preferences when making a decision.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance accessory that will protect your ride, then I’d recommend running boards. They are easy to install and their functionality is unmatched. Not only that, but they’re also durable and will significantly decrease the amount of damage incurred to your vehicle by obstacles in the parking lot (grooves in the road, potholes, etc.).
If you want a stylish accessory to increase your vehicle’s appearance, then I’d recommend nerf bars. These side rails are often crafted out of stainless steel or other scratch-resistant metals that will definitely turn heads while making sure your vehicle stays protected.
Both options offer great benefits and will look fabulous on your ride!