When updating the look of your rig and upgrading its off-road performance, one of your first actions should be upgrading its stock running boards. If you agree and are asking yourself where you can find the best running boards for your truck or SUV, you’ve come to the right place.
If you have modified your truck or SUV, with a lift kit and added larger tires, you also need to install an aftermarket running board. On top of helping the elderly and short passengers get into your rig easily, these boards also protect your car from tire projectiles when your vehicle is in motion. Check our another review and buying guide about the grease gun.
As you can see, installing running boards creates a win-win situation for everybody. So without further ado, below is a review of ten of the best running boards on the market today and a buying guide to help you pick out the best board for your vehicle:
- Best Running Boards: Editor’s Top Picks
- Things to Consider When Buying Running Boards
- Top 10 Best Running Boards Reviews:
- 1. Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B Star Armor Kit
- 2. APS Premium 4-inch iBoard Running Boards
- 3. APS 5-inch iBoard Running Boards
- 4. MaxMate Custom Fit 2009-2018 Ram
- 5. Tyger Auto TG-AM2D20078 Star Armor Kit
- 6. Tyger Auto TG-RS2D40068 RISER
- 7. APS iBoard Running Boards
- 8. Auto Dynasty Oval Side Step Nerf Bar
- 9. Genuine Toyota Accessories PT938-89100 Running Board
- 10. Westin 23-1680 Polished Step Bars
- Advantages of Running Boards
- How to Install Running Boards
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Q-1: What is the difference between Nerf Bars and running boards?
- Q-2: Do retracting running boards actually work?
- Q-3: What is the maximum load capacity of Nerf bars and running boards?
- Q-4: Can I get a running board that supports more than 500-pounds?
- Q-5: Steel vs. Aluminum. Which is a better material for running boards?
- Final Verdict
Best Running Boards: Editor’s Top Picks
Things to Consider When Buying Running Boards
When buying running boards for your rig, there are a few things you ought to know and consider before executing the purchase. Below is some knowledge that will go a long way in helping you figure out the best running boards for your rig:
What is the motivation behind installing a new set of running bars? Different people have different reasons for replacing their running boards. Some people simply want to enhance the look of their rig; others want to beef up the underbelly of their rigs for their off-road excursions. For instance, Ionic factory-style running boards are an excellent option for people that want the best of both worlds. They get a stylish look without sacrificing safety and functionality. The bottom line is that you can find a set of running boards to address your purpose.
2. Build Material
Running boards are primarily built from steel or aluminum. Each metal has its pros and cons. Steel running boards are known for their rigidity and their ability to take heavy beatings in off-road terrain. However, their heavy-duty nature further adds weight to your rig resulting in poor gas mileage.
On the other hand, aluminum running boards are lighter and help improve your rig’s gas mileage. They are however not ideal for off-road terrain as their light-duty nature can’t offer the same level of underbelly protection as steel running boards.
3. Type of Finish/Coating
The two main types of coating used on running boards are shiny polished chrome coats and matte black coats. These coatings are vital in prolonging the lifespan of these running boards. They protect the running boards from corrosion and harmful UV rays. You can use the finishing to differentiate between steel and aluminum running plates. Often, most steel boards have a shiny chrome finish while aluminum boards have a matte black finish.
4. Side Step Material
Good running boards are built for strength, support, durability, and protection. But just as important, running boards are supposed to provide safety in all weather conditions. You should look for running boards with thick and wide tread pads in your rig’s access points. The treads are designed to keep you safe even in rainy and snowy weather conditions. The grip in the tread keeps you planted by creating maximum friction between the running board and the sole of your shoe.
The length of your new running boards should be dictated by the length of your vehicle’s wheelbase. Remember that the maximum length board you can choose for your car is one that runs the entire length of your vehicle’s wheelbase. However, depending on your needs and preference, you can install shorter running boards.
6. Weight Capacity
Fortunately, most running boards have a maximum weight capacity of above 300-pounds. While this load capacity should be more than enough for most people, you can choose reinforced running boards for heavy-duty use. These high-load capacity running boards can support weights of up to 600-pounds, but also cost significantly more than standard variants.
The cost of running boards is affected by many factors. To avoid overpaying, make a comprehensive list of everything you want in your new set of running boards. Be as specific as you can when listing down the style you want, the material, weight capacity, and so on. Finally, make a shortlist of the products that have met your criteria, and select the winner based on its price.
8. Ease of Installation (DIY)
Installing running boards is a straightforward process. All you need are tools. If you’ve decided to save money and install the running boards yourself, you want to buy a set of running boards that are compatible with your rig. A wrong size running board means you have to drill, cut, and even weld some pieces into place. I can tell you for a fact that you don’t need that extra work. Therefore, select a running board that aligns perfectly with your rig. The whole installation process should be an easy bolt-on procedure.
Top 10 Best Running Boards Reviews:
1. Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B Star Armor Kit
Give your Jeep a sleek look and get in and out of your vehicle without a hitch with the TG-JA2J2239B Star Amor Kit. The kit includes two-step pads that feature a unique patented star design in a textured black finish that’s sure to make your Jeep Wrangler stand out. The step pads are designed to fit 2007-2018 4-Door Jeep Wrangler JK, save for the 2018 Wrangler JL models.
These step pads from Tyger Auto are crafted by laser-cutting technology and are welded to heavy-duty 2” diameter & 0.12” wall thickness tubes. All tubes come with sealed end caps to lock out dirt, dust, and water, and also to extend the life of the step pads. Also featured is a double girder system that offers superior wheel-to-wheel protection for both the underside and the rocker panel area from destructive blows.
Aside from the stylish design, Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts and hobbyists will also love how easily the TG-JA2J2239B Star Amor step pads can be installed. They feature a 1-piece design that allows for an easy bolt-on installation that doesn’t require any drilling. This means that you don’t need any specialized skills to install it. Once installed, you can expect your step pads to last for a long, since the black bars are pre-treated to remove impurities and to increase rust resistance.
- Designed for 2007-2018 4-Door Jeep Wrangler JK, except the 2018 Wrangler JL models
- Features a unique patented star design
- The dual-stage black powder finish
- Crafted by laser-cutting technology and welded to heavy-duty 2” diameter & 0.12” wall thickness tubes
- Double girder system that offers the best possible protection to the underside and rocker panel area
- Allows for an easy bolt-on installation that does not require drilling
- Limited lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects
2. APS Premium 4-inch iBoard Running Boards
When looking for running boards that will make it easier for children or shorter passengers to get into and out of your vehicle more easily, you’ll come across many options. iBoard running boards from APS are one choice you’ll definitely love. Unlike many other running boards that are oval or round in shape, the APS Premium 4-inch iBoard Running Boards boast a flat profile design that’s quite unique.
When you buy an iBoard package, you get 2 black running boards that come complete with brackets and hardware for a hassle-free bolt-on installation. The massive boards are 4-inch wide long, thus providing a broader step area for secure footing. The boards are designed to fit a wide range of vehicles, including the 2007-2018 Chevy Silverado, Extended Cab, and GMC Sierra Double Cabs.
Aside from the unique shape that’s designed to look and feel different, the iBoard running boards come with various features that make them a valuable add-on to your jeep. This hairline texture polished 6061-t6 aircraft aluminum boards meet the highest standard of corrosion and rust resistance. Their surface is coated in full-length, premium quality ultra-violet-resistant non-slip rubber. These heavy-duty brackets are capable of supporting up to 300 lbs without curving.
- Designed to fit a wide variety of vehicles, including 2007-2018 Chevy Silverado, Extended Cab, and GMC Sierra Double Cabs
- Features a flat profile design that gives your truck a unique look
- Easy bolt-on installation with mounting brackets and hardware included
- 4”-wide solid 1-piece bars that provide a broader step area for secure footing
- Hairline texture polished aircraft aluminum boards that meet the highest standard of corrosion and rust resistance
- Covered in full-length, premium quality ultra-violet resistant non-slip rubber
3. APS 5-inch iBoard Running Boards
Besides making it easy for you to climb in and out of your vehicle, running boards also protect your vehicle’s side panels, doors, and windows from being hit by road debris. If you’re looking for this kind of protection, then the APS 5-inch iBoard Running Boards will provide you with that and so much more. These running boards are made using 100 percent aluminum (no plastic parts included), thus offering superior strength, durability, and corrosion protection.
Just like the 4-inch iBoard running boards, these sleek, low-profile 5-inch boards flaunt a unique and sleek design that’s sure to augment your vehicle’s look. Furthermore, the boards are entirely covered by corrugated rubber step pads that provide a comfortable, secure, and slip-proof step. The 5-inch iBoard running boards are also sturdy and durable and feature heavy-duty brackets that are capable of supporting up to 300 lbs without curving.
Whether are an adept DIYer or you’re not quite mechanically inclined, you’ll find the 5-inch running boards pretty easy to install. Installation manual, brackets, as well as all the necessary hardware are included in the package. You’ll find out that the rocker panel mount is easy to install, though some drilling may be required on certain models.
- Made to custom fit 2010-2018 Ram 2500/3500, and 2009-2018 Ram 1500 Crew Cab Pickup 4Dr
- Made using sing 100 percent aluminum for superior strength, durability, and corrosion protection
- Low profile design that’s gives your truck a remarkably distinct look
- Heavy-duty brackets that are capable of supporting up to 300 lbs
- Has a ridged rubber top that provides a solid, non-slip and secures footing
- The package is inclusive of brackets, installation manual, all the relevant hardware
4. MaxMate Custom Fit 2009-2018 Ram
When it comes to your vehicle’s accessories, running boards are of utmost importance. MaxMate Custom Fit 2009-2018 Ram 1500 Crew Cab/2010-2019 Ram 2500/3500 Crew Cab 4 inch Oval Stainless Steel Side Step Rails Nerf Bars Running Boards (2pcs with Mounting Bracket Hardware Kit) are among the best running boards for Chevy Silverado. It has been tested, and you can use it with confidence as it comes loaded with all the great features you could be looking for in a running board.
It has been well crafted to cover both the driver’s and passengers’ sides, ensuring that everyone gets to feel safe. It is made to survive even in the harshest weather condition, and that’s not all; it has been made with a unique styling that will turn heads as you drive. It is reluctant to UV to offer you a non-slip step each time you stride on it.
MaxMate Custom Fit 2009-2018 Ram 1500 Crew Cab/2010-2019 Ram 2500/3500 Crew Cab 4 inch Oval Stainless Steel Side Step Rails Nerf Bars Running Boards only fits on crew cab with four full-size doors, and you should therefore not try to use it on a Mega cab or Quad cab as it may not carry out its intended purpose. If you are a DIY person, you will be happy to know that this running board is easy to install and you can do it in minutes. It is affordable, and its functionality will amaze you as it exceeds the value of the amount you pay for it.
- It is easy to mount and install as it requires no drilling
- Fit: crew cab with four full-size doors
- Comes with mounting hardware and DIY instruction, making it easy to use for everyone
- It is UV resistant
- Material: its step bars are made of heavy-duty 4-inch oval stain-resistant tubing covered with stain-resistant steel end caps
5. Tyger Auto TG-AM2D20078 Star Armor Kit
Designed by TYGER AUTO, this running board is a new generation of running boards that have been designed to look, feel and function differently. One of the first things to notice when you lay your eyes on them is that they are unique, modern, and clean which provides them with a glamorous and distinctive look that you could be looking for. Do not let their cute look deceive you; with its iconic running board review, this board’s functionality will surprise you. Even better; they are very affordable.
This auto accessory is among the best APG running boards which have been made to fit only the Crew cab with 4-full size doors, and it is made to offer maximum coverage for optimum comfort and safety both to the driver and the passengers when stepping out of the cab. It is not only well-built but also, you will not have to worry about it bending any time soon.
The running boards are resistant to rust and UV and even better; they make your vehicle look like it is brand new. Installing them is a breeze, and you can do it yourself within hassle-free minutes. Maintaining them is very easy as all you need to do is perform a non-abrasive cleaning and they will always be in their tip-top condition. They also have a dual girder system that protects the underside from any damaging impacts ensuring that they get to serve you for an extended period.
- Fit: they only fit crew cabs with four full-sized doors. You should not try to use them on quad cabs with two full-size doors or mega cabs as they will not function as intended
- They are easy to install
- They offer up to 500 LBS weight capacity on each side as they are made with heavy-duty 2’’ diameter tubes
- They come with a five-year warranty
6. Tyger Auto TG-RS2D40068 RISER
These are considered as one of the best nerf bars for Chevy Silverado crew cab, and if you really want to get in your car easier and safer, then you should get them. Tyger is known for its incredible job when it comes to automotive accessories, and this is one of them. You can use it with confidence as it has been fully tested and proven to be reliable. It is well crafted with the step bars being made of 4” heavy-duty mild steel tubing meaning they will stay on and serve for as long as you wish. The step bars are powder-coated, making them rust and UV resistant with non-slip step pads. What else could you probably ask for?
They are waterproof and you will be glad to know that they make your vehicle look like it is brand new. They are meant to offer safety and comfort when getting in and out of the cab and provide full coverage from one end to the other. They are easy to mount and install as they come in handy with all mounting hardware and DIY instructions. Their benefits do not end there as they come with a five-year warranty against any damages.
- Fit: the quad cab with two full-size front doors and narrow rear doors. You should not mount it on a crew cab or mega cab
- Easy to mount and install
- It is made of heavy-duty mild steel tubing coated in black powder for rust and UV resistance
- It provides optimum safety and comfort with its non-slip step pads
- Easy bolt-on installation
- Comes with a warranty
7. APS iBoard Running Boards
The iBoard FBA_IB-C5071B by APS is as good as advertised. These running boards are better than stock ones in every shape and form. When it comes to aesthetics, they give your Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra a completely new side profile. While not everyone might notice the upgrade, you and every Sierra or Silverado enthusiast will definitely take note of them.
So, what makes these particular iBoard running boards unique? Well, for starters, the iBoard brand has been around for over 20 years, and they specialize in making the best running boards for trucks and SUVs. But, this information might be irrelevant to you; you are only interested in the quality of these boards.
When you see these running boards for the first time, you will hardly believe that they started as solid blocks of aircraft-grade aluminum. Aluminum undergoes a series of industrial processes to shape it. The aluminum is then coated with matte black powder paint to protect it from corrosion. Finally, it is enclosed in a durable 5-inch wide corrugated rubber pad for slip protection.
When it comes to functionality, this particular iBoard is up there with the best running boards in the business. Its lightweight nature means that it does not add any unnecessary weight to your truck. It comes with mounting brackets and an installation kit for an easy DIY job. And lastly, it can support a maximum load capacity of 350-pounds, which should be more than enough for most people.
- Fit: 2007-2018 GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Chevy Silverado
- Easy DIY install
- Material: Solid aluminum build for strength
- Finish: Matte black powder coat for durability
- 350 LBS load capacity
- 5″ wide corrugated rubber pad covers for a secure, slip-proof step
- Unique low profile design
- Package includes: Two iBoard running boards with mounting brackets and an installation hardware kit
- Item Weight: 42-pounds
- Item Dimensions: 88.2 x 11.5 x 7.6 inches
8. Auto Dynasty Oval Side Step Nerf Bar
These particular Auto Dynasty Oval Side Steps are considered as one of the best Nerf bars for Chevy Silverado Crew Cab. If you own a 2001 – 2018 GMC Sierra Crew Cab, you can take solace in knowing that you can install these Nerf bars in your truck. How are they? Well, the first thing you notice when you unbox these running boards is their heaviness which comes from their high-strength stainless steel build.
When these oval-shaped tubes were constructed, the main agenda was to create high-strength Nerf bars that would protect your truck’s underbelly from damage. And to that end, these running boards don’t disappoint. Their heavy-duty nature gives the impression that they can take a beating in off-road terrain and protect your vehicle from damage.
However, despite their robust nature, these Auto Dynasty running boards are not just about grit and toughness. They are not a one-trick pony. These Nerf bars have other features and properties that have made them one of the favorites among truck users. They have slip-resistant rubber steps pads to correspond with each door for easier and safer truck access.
The team at Auto Dynasty realized that some people installed after-market Nerf bars purely based on their appearance. For this reason, they rounded the edges of the steel tubes to create an appealing symmetrical oval shape and added a chrome coat to enhance the style of your rig and also protect the steel tube from corrosion.
- Fit: 2001 -2018 GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Chevy Silverado
- Material: Durable, Rust-Resistant, Stainless Steel
- Finish: Corrosion resistant polished chrome coat with Large Slip-Resistant Step Pads
- Design: 5″ Wide Oval Tubing Nerf bars
- The maximum load capacity of up to 500-pounds
- The package includes: Two running boards with mounting brackets and an installation kit
- Easy DIY Installation
9. Genuine Toyota Accessories PT938-89100 Running Board
The main appeal of the Toyota PT938-89100 Running Board is that they are designed for functionality, and they do that exceptionally well. These running boards are designed for you to step up and step into your Toyota effortlessly. They are built for Toyota owners who are not interested in stylish or gimmicky running boards.
These running boards are meant as replacement boards for contractors that own Toyota trucks or SUVs who might have damaged their running boards on their work sites. Toyotas are known across the globe for their reliable products and being genuine Toyota running boards; you can trust these will be the last replacement boards you will ever have to buy.
What these running boards lack in style, they more than make up for it in practicality and functionality. You get super-light running boards that reduce your vehicle’s overall weight. You also get an easy installation where no drilling is required as each nut, screw, bolt, and washer fit seamlessly in their dedicated spot.
Lastly, you can step up and step into your Toyota effortlessly with the help of the skid-resistant step pads which also protect the running boards from corrosion. To wind up, these Toyota running boards are ideal replacements for professional-based rigs where their users value functionality over style.
- Fit: Toyota 4 Runner Trail Edition
- A high-quality OEM running board replacement for Toyota trucks and SUVs
- Protected by a one year or 12k warranty
- Easy DIY installation
- Item Weight: 40.4 pounds
- Item Dimensions: 71 x 12.7 x 9.8 inches
10. Westin 23-1680 Polished Step Bars
The Westin 23-1680 is part of the Westin Signature Series of Nerf bars. The Signature Series is a favorite for DIY GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado enthusiasts as they are designed to fit perfectly in these rigs. This package comes with two running boards, mounting brackets, and an installation kit. Installing this particular step bar in your Sierra or Silverado could not be easier as no drilling or welding is required. What’s more, all holes align perfectly, and all bolts, screws, and washers fit perfectly in their dedicated spots.
When it comes to design, these side steps are not much to look at. The tubular design is a little tasteless, but its polished chrome finish/coating will sure add some vibrancy to your Sierra or Silverado truck. One thing to keep in mind is that the buyers of this particular set of running boards bought it for its excellent practicality and durability.
To start with, these running boards are made of marine-grade stainless steel for maximum protection of your rig’s underbelly. Next, the conspicuous chrome coating is designed to increase the durability of the running boards by protecting the steel frame from corrosion. Lastly, each running board is fitted with a polymer step pad in each of the doors to facilitate a slip-resistant entry point.
- Fit: 2001 -2018 GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Chevy Silverado Crew Cab
- Material: High-strength, marine-grade 3″ stainless steel tube
- Finish: Polished chrome with a UV-resistant molded polymer step pad
- The package includes: Two running boards with mounting brackets and an installation kit
- An exclusive 5-year protection warranty
- Easy bolt-on installation that does not require drilling or welding
- Item Weight: 43-pounds
- Item Dimensions: 84 x 17 x 5 inches
Advantages of Running Boards
Running boards have different appeals for different people. The diverse tastes and opinions of car enthusiasts mean that what you consider an advantage might not necessarily be viewed as an advantage by another person. With this in mind that we compiled a list of benefits that most car enthusiasts will agree upon. Here they are:
- 1. They are Stylish
While style is subjective and varies from person to person, most car enthusiasts can agree that running boards add an element of style to your rig. If you are planning to take the standard look of your truck or SUV and convert it to an imposing off-road menace, running boards will play a huge role in achieving that look. They play a major role in enhancing your rig’s side profile and widening/beefing up its stance.
- 2. They Offer Easy Access
Everyone agrees that running boards help improve the accessibility of your rig. If you have a lifted rig, getting in can be a huge challenge for young children, elderly, weak and short passengers. Running boards provide a lowered step to help people get into the vehicle more efficiently.
- 3. They Protect Vehicles’ Sides and Underbellies
A lot of things happen to the wheels of your vehicle when it’s in motion. Most enthusiasts will agree that the tire tends to launch rocks and other debris into your vehicle’s side and underbelly. This happens in varying degrees in both paved and unpaved roads.
The speed at which these objects are projected can dent the body, chip the paintwork, break glass or even damage vital components found in the underside of your vehicle. Running boards protect your vehicle by blocking and deflecting these objects.
- 4. They Promote Clean Interiors
When a vehicle is in motion, its wheels launch various objects towards the car. When sand and dust are kicked up by the wheels, they creep into a vehicle’s interior making it dusty. To some small extent, running boards block the dust from getting into the interior. That said, running boards also act as doormats where passengers can wipe off mud and other debris before entering your rig.
How to Install Running Boards
Installing running boards is a simple procedure that anyone can do with the right tools. It’s a two-hour job that shouldn’t take you more than an hour to install on one side. Below are the tools you need and the procedure to follow:
- Ratchet and Socket Set
- Wrenches (Box end)
- Safety Gear: Protective glasses and gloves
- Jack Stands (if your vehicle has a low ground clearance)
Step 1: Raise your rig for better reach under the vehicle
Step 2: Detach the stock OEM board by undoing its bolts
Step 3: Install bolt plate into factory holes then attach all (front, center, and rear) brackets
Step 4: Fasten the bolts into the underside of the board channels
Step 5: Place the board with the bracket using the provided hardware set
Step 6: Once the board, brackets, and truck align, feed the bolts through the appropriate slots
Step 7: Tighten the bolts to hold the new install in place securely
Step 8: Make sure the board is firmly in place before lowering the vehicle
Step 9: Repeat the process on the other side
Frequently Asked Questions
Q-1: What is the difference between Nerf Bars and running boards?
- Nerf bars are also referred to as tube steps for their tubular shape while running boards are shaped like a step. Another difference is that Nerf bars have individual padded stepping areas under each door (entry point) while the entire length of running boards is padded with a non-slip material.
Q-2: Do retracting running boards actually work?
- Yes, they do. APG running boards are some of the best in the industry in this regard.
Q-3: What is the maximum load capacity of Nerf bars and running boards?
- The maximum weight capacity differs with each model. However, standard Nerf bars and running boards can easily support 300-pounds and below.
Q-4: Can I get a running board that supports more than 500-pounds?
- Yes. These variants are commonly referred to as heavy-duty running boards exist. They are feature reinforced steel and generally cost more than standard running boards.
Q-5: Steel vs. Aluminum. Which is a better material for running boards?
- Both metals have their upsides and downsides. The answer to this question depends on how you are planning to use your rig after the upgrade. Aluminum boards are light and better if you use your rig as a daily driver. The heavy-duty nature of steel boards makes them suitable for construction sites, unpaved roads, and other unforgiving terrains.
As you’ve witnessed throughout this post, running boards and Nerf bars have many benefits. As a vehicle owner, installing a running board increases your cool factor. Your vehicle’s improved stance and aggressive look will turn heads everywhere you go. Next, running boards create a safe way to access a raised truck or SUV.
The passengers in your vehicle will have an easier time getting in and out of your rig. You also can’t forget that running boards protect your vehicle against damage from stones and debris while in motion and sloppy passengers getting out of cars parked next to yours. All these are valid reasons why you need to invest in a new set of running boards.