Nerf Bars vs Running Boards | BumperStock

Trucks are big. It is one of the main reasons why we choose them over regular cars. Even stock trucks and SUVs can sometimes be hard to get into simply because of their size. Add a lift and bigger wheels to that and getting into your truck can prove to be a challenge.

Oftentimes, the term “running boards” or “nerf bars” will be used interchangeably, but it is important to note that they are not the same thing. Yes, they both have similar jobs to do. However, depending on the make and model of vehicle you have they can have different uses. 

We have created the ultimate guide for these, often overlooked accessories that can prove to be crucial pieces of equipment. No matter what you use your truck, Jeep, or SUV for, having a good quality set of nerf bars of running boards is vital. 

But what are nerf bars? How do they differ from normal running boards? How can you tell them apart? All of these questions will and more will be answered in this post so that when it comes time to mount a set, you know exactly what to look for.

Nerf Bars 

Like many other leading-edge accessories, nerf bars came from the racing industry. The truck industry quickly realized that nerf bars could be also used on your favorite 4X4 and look good at the same time. 

Function and form are the best way to describe nerf bars. Initially, they were used for race cars when overtaking someone on the track by providing lateral protection. However, the technology was quickly adapted to trucks and other off-road vehicles. 

Nowadays, nerf bars are not only used to help you get in your truck easier but also provide the underside of the vehicle with added protection when going offroad. Nerf bars can also be differentiated from running boards due to their bigger and rounded shape.  

Running Boards

Unlike its brother, running boards only serve one purpose and that is to help you get in your truck easier. In recent years, running boards have become the favorite for everyone, from popular automakers to the aftermarket industry. On top of that, some running boards can also be motorized. They lower when you open the door and tuck away under the cab after you get in. 

The main job of common running boards is to help you safely get in and out of your truck. While they can help provide some protection while off-roading, that is not what they were intended for. If you are looking for protection, we recommend going with a set of quality nerf bars. Running boards can also be permanently attached to the body of your truck for ultimate durability.  

Running Boards vs Nerf Bars 

Now that we've gotten you up to speed on what the key differences between running boards and nerf bars are, let's go over some of the pros and cons of each. Remember, what you want to get out of your truck may not be ideal for the next person and vice-versa. 

Nerf Bars

Off-Road Protection

Planning to go do some 4X4-ring? Why not benefit from the added protection that a quality set of nerf bars can offer. They are usually mounted lower on the cab so that they can act as protection. 

Increased Accessibility

Getting in and out of your truck can be quite a challenge, especially for those who are “vertically challenged”. Having nerf bars mounted on you’re the side of your vehicle can help give you added a bit of reach when climbing in. 


Aside from helping you get in easier, Nerf Bars can help keep your undercarriage in good condition. Of course, they are nowhere near as good as a purpose-built skid plate, for example. For bigger obstacles like rocks and boulders, they can be a lifesaver. 

Running Boards


Running boards are made for the single purpose of helping you get in and out of your vehicle with ease, they are often made from lightweight metal and/or covered in plastic for added grip.  

Added Length

Bigger is always better, right? In the case of running boards, it is. High-quality running boards will run the entire length of the cab and can even go from wheel arch to wheel arch depending on the make and model of the vehicle. 

Cleaner Appearance 

Running boards, depending on the make and model you choose, can help keep the overall look of your vehicle as “clean” and simple as possible. If you want the capability of getting into your truck without having to mess up the original look of your vehicle, a set of retractable running boards is perfect for you! 

Final Words 

No matter the reason why someone would nerf bars or running boards, it is important to know the difference between the two. While the two names are used interchangeably, they are different in both function and design. has created this post to help you understand the difference as well as the pros and cons of these two similar-looking, yet completely different systems. 

Our experienced team is standing by to help answer any questions you might have when it comes to Nerf Bars, Running Boards, or pretty much anything else that is truck-related. 

Find out why we are one of the best aftermarket truck bumper and accessory suppliers in the country. Give us a call at 844-827-4442 or send us a message today!

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