All my fellow truck and SUV aficionados will understand me when I say that there are only a few things in life better than taking care of and investing in your beloved four-wheel companion. We all enjoy buying car accessories that sometimes we don’t even need. That’s precisely the beauty of running boards.
They are one of those rare upgrade products that we buy for both aesthetics and functionality. If you’ve thought about getting running boards for your vehicle, you’ve also wondered which ones are the best.
Luckily for you, to save you the trouble (and time) of finding the best running boards on the market, I’ve gathered them all up in one place so you can see for yourself that they are the best!
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
The 7 Best Running Boards in 2020
1. Bully BBS-1103 Universal Truck Black Powder Coated Side Step
I loved absolutely everything about the Bully Universal Truck Side Step! What fascinated me the most is the excellent support you get with this model. Since it’s forged from billet aluminum, it has superior strength necessary to provide you with ultimate comfort.
I thoroughly tested this product, and I can assure you, it has an incredible weight limit – it can support up to 350 pounds! This is in large part thanks to the weldless seams that enhance the strength of this truck side step. Out of the many truck side steps that I had the chance to use and test, I liked this one the most.
The Bully truck side step has a simple and sophisticated design, but don’t question its ruggedness! The fact that it’s made of one-piece chrome-plated aluminum makes it very sturdy, and I assure you it will provide safe and secure access to your cab every single time, even in extreme conditions!
One thing that I didn’t like about this one is that the hardware that comes included is not of the best quality, and you may end up having to buy extra or use your own if you have it.
- Provides supreme support up to 350 pounds
- Made of one-piece chrome-plated aluminum (no welded seams)
- Rugged construction
- Easy to install
- Fits most vehicles
- Hardware included is mostly useless
|If you need truck side steps, the Bully has got you covered! These modern side steps have a sturdy construction, they can support a lot of weight, and they’re easy to install!|
2. Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B Running Board
If you need the best running boards for your Jeep Wrangler JK 4 Door (2007-2018), these are the ones for you. The heavy-duty black running boards have a 2-inch diameter and 0.120inch wall thickness tubes. They are made using laser-cutting technology, and they’re welded to the tubes in a one-piece design that provides durability and makes them the best tube running boards.
What I liked the most about these running steps is that they provide the ultimate wheel-to-wheel protection for underside and rocker panel areas from all damaging impacts and in all conditions. If you ask me, these are the best running boards for snow!
Thanks to the dual-stage powder coated textured black finish, they will fit nicely no matter the color of your car.
When I tried out these running boards, I was so pleasantly surprised how easy it is to install them. There’s no drilling requires! You get full and detailed instructions in the package, and in just a few simple steps, it’s done!
Unfortunately, these running boards don’t fit the 2018 Wrangler JL models. So if that’s the model you have and you were excited to try these out, I have to disappoint you.
- Fit all 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK 4 Door
- Provide maximum wheel-to-wheel protection
- Easy to install – no drilling required
- Best heavy-duty running boards
- Don’t fit the 2018 Wrangler JL models
|If you’re looking for the best running boards for your Jeep Wrangler JK 4 Doors (2007-2018), I know you won’t be disappointed by the fantastic Tyger running boards!|
3. Tyger Auto TG-RS2C40017
Another amazing Tyger running boards are these for the 2015-2020 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon Crew Cab. If you have a GMC Canyon Crew Cab, these running boards will only fit a four full-size door model.
Tyger makes the best pickup running boards, and I liked the TG-RS2C40017 model the best. You can choose from two designs, including the all-black and stainless steel, and I personally liked the stainless steel more.
These eye-catching black and stainless steel running boards are made of 4-inch wide marine-grade T304 stainless steel triangle tubing. In addition to that, the running boards for both the driver and passenger side have UV-resistant, non-slip step pads to provide you and your vehicle with maximum protection.
In my experience, installing all Tyger running boards is hassle-free. They have a simple bolt-on mechanism that doesn’t require any drilling, and you get detailed instructions included. Besides the instructions, you also get all mounting hardware included too.
One flaw that I and some other users noticed is that they sit too high, so it’s not very comfortable to use them for getting out of the car.
- One of the best pickup running boards
- Made of 4-inch wide marine-grade T304 stainless steel
- Non-slip step pads
- Mounting hardware is included
- It can be a drag using them to get out of a car
|If you’re a proud owner of a 2015-2020 Chevy Colorado or a GMC Canyon Crew Cab, and you want only the best for your car, I highly recommend the Tyger TG-RS2C40017 running boards!|
4. APS iBoard Running Boards
If you’re looking for the best running boards for Chevy Silverado, then the APS iBoard running boards are the best choice for you. I was so excited to try these out, and I must admit, the APS iBoard makes the best truck running boards.
These are full-length running boards that provide comfort and protection. They have the incredible capacity to support 300 pounds! This is in no small part thanks to the aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum build.
APS created these running boards with simplicity in mind. They are not bulky or over styled, just simple matte black running boards with patented low profile design. They’re also 5 inches wide, edge-to-edge running boards that provide comfort and safety, thanks to the non-slip rubber step pad covering the entire board!
Besides 2007-2018 Chevy Silverado, APS iBoard running boards are also suitable for GMC Sierra Double Cab/Extended Cab, and 2019 2500 HD/3500 HD.
The only flaw in an otherwise great product is that the instructions that come included are not very clear. You get all mounting hardware, but the pictures and steps for installation are not very well explained!
- Best running boards for Chevy Silverado
- They support up to 300 pounds!
- Simple edge-to-edge design
- Non-slip rubber step pad
- Made from aircraft-grade aluminum
- Instructions for installation are not clear
|Undoubtedly the best running boards for your Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra Double Cab/Extended Cab are the APS iBoard running boards. The simple design and high performance make it a real premium choice!|
5. TAC Side Steps
Tac side steps are the right choice if you need simple side steps that fit perfectly on a Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1999-2018 1500, and 1999-2019 2500/3500 Extended or Double Cab, but that’s not all.
These 3″ round tube side bars are one of the most popular on the market because they can fit more than 200 vehicle models of America’s trucks and SUVs. These are America’s and my number one choice side running boards for SUV!
Tac side steps are made of ultra-strong, heavy-duty powder-coated mild steel round tube. The marine-grade stainless steel is highly resistant to rust, which makes these side bars very durable. They also have non-slip, UV-resistant step pads for enhanced durability and safety.
Besides the sturdy construction, I especially loved the high-end design. These running board steps will surely elevate the appearance of your car with the luxurious mirror-polished black powder coating finish!
You won’t have any trouble installing these trucks and SUV running boards. They have a simple bolt-on design that makes the installation process quick and straightforward.
Just a heads up, these side steps cannot support a lot of weight, compared to some other models so they may bend a little bit under a lot of pressure!
- Best side bars for trucks and SUV
- Made of marine-grade stainless steel
- Non-slip step pads
- Full-length running boards
- They tend to bend a little under a lot of weight
|With the ability to fit 200 truck and SUV models, the Tac side steps are the most versatile out there!|
6. Westin 56-12775 HDX Drop Nerf Step
I’m not a very tall person, and I often find myself having trouble getting into a truck, so for me, as for many other people, running boards are not just a question of aesthetics, but also the functionality.
The Westin running boards are made with truck owners in mind. The flat black textured design looks beautiful on trucks. But don’t think these running boards are only pretty. On the contrary, they are efficient and high-performing as much as they are aesthetically pleasing.
You’ll notice that the die-stamped steel step areas provide more space for the toe/heel step area. They offer 2 more inches of toe/heel step area than a lot of other side steps.
The Westin side bars have a sturdy construction mostly because they are made of one-piece stainless steel. This means there are no welded seams that would impair the performance and strength of the running boards. In case you’re wondering, these running boards can support a lot of weight – up to 300 pounds!
Included with these side runners for trucks, you get the mount kit, installation hardware, and installation instructions. Although I have to tell you that, in my experience and what I heard from other costumers, these instructions are almost entirely useless (they are not clear).
- Made with truck owners in mind
- Made of one-piece stainless steel without welded seams
- Sturdy, durable construction
- Attractive design
- The included instructions are not helpful
|I strongly recommend the Westin running boards as the number one choice for all my fellow truck lovers!|
7. Ionic 5″ Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars
What I love about Ionic as a brand is how versatile they are. Their inventory covers everything, from pickup trucks and SUVs to vans and CUVs and more!
Their curved nerf bars are an excellent choice for a lot of truck and SUV owners, but I think you’ll especially love them if you have a Ram 1500. These are the best running boards for Ram 1500 pickup trucks, and you can combine them to go nicely with covers for your Ram 1500! Also, if you drive an SUV, it’s unlikely you’ll find better SUV side steps.
I especially liked that these running boards are 5 inches wide and have a curved design, so they are perfectly sized to give you a wide and safe step area, which is why I believe these are the best running boards for lifted trucks! They are robust and convenient enough to allow you to get in or out of the car comfortably.
I should warn you that it’s a bit complicated to install them if you have a GMC with a DEF tank on the passenger side. You may need to ask someone with tiny hands to connect the two brackets in the front.
- Suitable for pickup trucks, SUVs, vans, CUVs
- Made of durable and robust steel
- Best choice for lifted trucks
- You might encounter some problems during installation if you have a GMC with a DEF tank
|Whether you drive a lifted truck, an SUV, a pickup truck, or a van, you’ll love using the Ionic 5″ stainless steel running boards!|
Truck side steps vs. running boards
You’ll find that terms side steps and running boards are often used by many manufacturers interchangeably, but there are a few key differences you should be aware of.
Running boards are car accessories that are especially useful for SUVs, trucks, and lifted trucks because these vehicles are made to provide more ground clearance. They offer an easy step when you are getting in our out of the car. They have a flat and wide step area, and their purpose is to give you comfort, security, and protection.
Side steps have a lot of names – side bars, nerf bars, step bars… Don’t let it confuse you; it’s all the same. The primary purpose of side steps is the same as running boards, to provide a stepping surface when you get in or out of a car. They’re also generally used on large vehicles like SUVs and trucks, but because they are usually smaller in size than running boards, they’re used on compact SUVs and crossovers.
Main differences between side steps and running boards:
- Side steps leave extra space between the step and the vehicle
- Running boards offer more ground clearance for lower vehicles
- Running boards usually feature a single full-length step pad, while side steps have individual step pads
- Running boards are wider and have a flatter profile than side steps
Why do you need running boards?
Why is it important to have running boards on your vehicle?
Running boards are located on either one or both sides of your truck or SUV, meaning you can choose from single side steps for trucks and SUVs or double side steps, and you should always choose according to your personal needs and preferences.
Whether you go with one or two, you should know the purpose and the benefits of having running boards.
They have two primary purposes, the first one being the obvious one – to serve as an additional step. In this sense, running boards can be handy. If you have a tall truck, if some passengers are on the shorter side, or if you’re driving kids in your truck, then you need running boards. They provide a safe and comfortable way for everyone to get in or out of the vehicle.
The second purpose of running boards is to protect your vehicle from road debris that could damage it. When you’re driving, the wheels tend to kick up all kinds of debris, like rocks, dirt, or even nails and other destructive things. Running boards will block some of this debris and prevent it from damaging or scratching doors and side panels!
Sometimes running boards can also have an additional benefit. For example, when the passengers are getting into your truck, they can wipe off the dirt or mud on their shoes against the running board and not get it into the car!
Since vehicles usually don’t come with built-in running boards, you’ll have to get aftermarket running boards for your car!
How to install running boards
When you purchase running boards, you’ll have to install them by yourself. But don’t sweat it, it’s a simple process that requires a few tools, and you always get instructions included.
Each running board model has a different installation, but they all need similar tools, so since you’re going to install it by yourself, make sure to have the following tools at hand:
- A ratchet or socket set
- Box end wrenches
- Safety glasses and gloves
- A creeper or a padded mat (this one is optional)
This should do it, and you should be ready to install your new running boards. The good news is that with most running boards, you also get all the necessary hardware, so you don’t have to worry about having the right nail and things like that!
Material: Aluminum vs. stainless steel running boards
When we talk about aluminum vs. stainless steel, there are a few categories we have to discuss. The first one is strength to weight ratio. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but steel is a lot stronger than aluminum. So if you want running boards that can support more weight and have a sturdier build, go with stainless steel.
The next thing to consider is corrosion or how corrosive each material is. Aluminum comes in different alloys, and each has a different level of resistance. Marine-grade aluminum is a lot more corrosion resistant than other alloys. Stainless steel contains chromium, which has corrosion-resistant properties, and 304 type is one of the most resistant steels.
In conclusion, if you want strength over lightweight, choose stainless steel. And if you want higher resistance to corrosion, go with marine-grade aluminum!
Types of running boards
If you’ve already combed through our top seven choices for the best running boards, you’ve probably noticed different types of running boards and side steps. Let’s go through them one by one, so you can choose the best one for yourself!
The most popular types of running boards are step boards, bar side steps, rocker bars, and hoop steps. We’ve made sure to include these top four types on our list because they are popular for a good reason. They’re the most functional, convenient, and safe running boards.
The best example of hoop steps is definitely the Bully BBS-1103 model. Hoop steps assist when you go in or out of the car, and they’re usually made of aluminum.
Step boards are also hugely popular among truck and SUV drivers, especially high-quality ones, like these APS iBoard running boards. They’re also usually made of aluminum, which means that you have a durable product at hand.
Rocker bars have a more stylish design, and these Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B with the fun patented star design are really authentic!
Besides these four, there are a few less popular types, like the truck bed steps that give you easier access to your truck bed and hitch steps.
The options in the aftermarket steps for trucks are numerous, and always make sure to choose the right ones for your car and your needs! Plus, it’s always fun to mix and match car accessories so you can, for example, get running boards to match your steering wheel covers!
FAQs – Running boards
Which is better – nerf bars or running boards?
The dilemma that follows when you ask the question “nerf bars or running boards” is confusing because there’s no one right answer to this question. Essentially, nerf bars and running boards have the same function – to help you get in or out of the vehicle. However, they differ in a few characteristics, mainly regarding design.
Nerf bars look more attractive compared to running boards, and they require less cleaning because they have a smaller surface.
Running boards, on the other hand, are great if you need a large step area but, since they usually have an edge-to-edge step pad (while nerf bars have individual pads), they tend to get dirtier than nerf bars, and you have to clean them more often.
Are running boards worth it?
Unlike the previous question, this one has a definite answer – yes, running boards are worth it!
Simply based on the full range of options, choosing the best running boards can be tough, but it’s definitely worth your time and money.
Running boards are not a crucial part of your vehicle, and it’s something you can live without. But why would you?
On that note, I have to mention all of the benefits you get with running boards. They provide extra protection to the exterior of your car, especially the door and side panels, and they also can help keep the interior clean. They help you safely go in and out of the car, and on top of all that, let’s be honest – they look cool!
Sadly, running boards can be pricey, but as I already mentioned, they are one of the rare car upgrades parts that look cool and are very useful!
Choosing the best running boards can be demanding timewise. For me, it was a fun adventure where I got to test and try out only the best of the best! I must say I am confident in my choices, and you definitely won’t regret trying any of my top picks.
Now the time has come for you to choose your favorite and to try it out. All seven of my choices are unique in their own way, so choose the one according to your personal needs! Yes, the possibilities are endless, but I honestly hope my buying guide will guide you through it!
I am Dave McCurdy I am the content developer on the ecodrivingusa.com website. I have 3 years of experience in marketing.