If you own a truck or SUV and it didn’t come with a nerf bar or running board, I bet you’ve been thinking about buying the right one for your vehicle.
Personally, I don’t think any truck or SUV is really “complete” without a nerf bar. If you’ve ever watched a five-foot person try to get into their three-quarter ton pickup truck without a good step, you’ll understand what I mean.
Everyone loves the look. Not to mention the incredible convenience that a nerf bar can offer any model truck or SUV.
Sometimes called running boards, these two aren’t exactly the same. Running boards are flat. Nerf bars are often round or tube-shaped and stick out further from the vehicle.
Some may disagree with me and say that nerf bars and running boards are the same, but that’s my opinion.
I also think that there are mundane nerf bars and great nerf bars.
A truly great nerf bar will have a flat spot to place your foot where the doors are located. But if the bar is only knurled at the footrest, that’s fine, it’s still considered a nerf bar.
If you’re looking into a new or replacement nerf bar for your ride, you may be wondering if there is a real difference. You may also be wondering which would be the best for your truck or SUV.
What is the best brand of nerf bars?
This is difficult to answer when you consider how many brands of nerf bars there are and how many different brands and styles of trucks and SUVs there are.
Ask 100 people and you will probably get 100 different answers. Some folks are simply stuck on OEM brands and won’t use something that isn’t OEM.
Others won’t buy OEM believing they are higher-priced than other products, but nearly everyone has a favorite.
This is like asking which shoe brand is best.
I believe it’s best to choose a brand that suits your likes and needs. The best product in the world won’t be of much use to you if you can’t afford it or if they don’t make a design to fit your truck or SUV.
Consider the price, styling, and always read nerf bar reviews to see what other users have said about the product. Some look nice on the vehicle but they don’t last, they are easily damaged, or they rust.
Choose what works best for you. If you love a black finish, don’t choose a nerf bar that is chrome. If you love a thin, simple design, don’t choose a big 6-inch monster with lots of bling.
The best nerf bar is the one you love when it’s on your vehicle.
Which is better nerf bars or running boards?
Nerf bars and running boards are often interchangeable terms, but they are functionally different.
Both running boards and nerf bars allow you to step up and into the vehicle. They both also provide a place for you to stand and load items if you wish. But this is technically where the similarities end.
Running boards, as the name implies, run the entire length of the vehicle, from the front fender or rocker to the rear rocker panel. They allow you to step anywhere on that length, either to enter/exit the cabin or for loading purposes.
Nerf bars were originally designed to prevent other vehicles from bumping them. You can have a product that functions both as a step and as a vehicle protector. But the bar must stick out from the vehicle far enough so that other car doors won’t hit the body of your truck or SUV.
Some running boards are wide enough to accomplish both. Some products marked as “nerf bars” are actually nothing more than a step for entry into the cabin.
Running boards allow you to enter the vehicle and can be used as a step for loading. If they extend far enough, they can operate as nerf bars.
Nerf bars can also be used for easier access to the cabin and for loading purposes.
If a running board does not extend far enough to prevent another vehicle from hitting yours with their door, it is simply a running board and not a nerf bar.
So, which is better? It really depends on what you want out of the product.
Are Ionic Nerf bars good?
Ionic nerf bars are perhaps one of the biggest, if not the biggest, brand of nerf bars/running boards on the market today.
Ionic nerf bars must have something going for them to be one of the biggest sellers, right?
You might notice that I have not recommended any Ionic brand bars. One reason for this is that I’m not a big fan of brand names. Sometimes, products deserve to be the number one product, and other times they don’t. I hate paying for nothing more than a name.
Ionic Nerf Bars seem to have the same benefits and issues that other nerf bars have, only they have a bigger price tag. It’s hard for me to recommend based on that issue.
Similar to other brands, Ionic has issues with mounting brackets not being clearly marked. They are also plain steel, which means they will rust if you don’t apply a protective coat. The washers are also steel and not Teflon. Imagine trying to get these off after several winters. Ugh.
You should also note that for some models of Ionic nerf bars, you need to pay extra for the “Pro” model if you want the Ionic name on the step.
This isn’t to say that you can’t find some models at a great sale price and Ionic does have a wide variety of styles to choose from. If you don’t like one style, you are sure to find another that suits you.
This is mostly my opinion and the opinions of other reviews that I have read. If you think this is the best brand ever, then you should continue to purchase this brand.
For my money, however, there are many other nerf bar manufacturers that make a comparable product for less money.
Why do they call them Nerf Bars?
The word nerf bar is a funny one and you might wonder where this came from. In professional racing, when one driver bumps another car, it’s called nerfing. Nerf bars were invented for racing to prevent other drivers from “nerfing” one another.
Nerf bars may have gotten their start in racing. But there is no doubt about it, today it feels as if every truck and SUV on the road has some type of nerf bar.
Remember that not all products labeled as nerf bars actually operate as a nerf bar. If the product doesn’t stick out far enough to prevent, say, a car door from dinging your vehicle, it isn’t a nerf bar. It is a running board.
Curved or Straight Nerf bars?
Like the color or the brand, choosing between a curved or straight nerf bar is mostly a matter of preference.
If a nerf bar curves far enough (and these are sometimes referred to as bent bars) it can add just an extra inch or two to the overall length. Then you can use it as an additional step.
This is what you will want to choose if you often need to load items on the roof or if you need to tie down items and you want an extra place to put your feet.
Bent and curved nerf bars also stick out farther from the vehicle. If it sticks out far enough from your vehicle, it would prevent others from hitting your truck with their doors or shopping carts.
This isn’t to say that straight nerf bars can’t accomplish this, but curved or bent nerf bars generally stick out further from the rocker panels.
There is plenty to be said about straight nerf bars. They look great. For those who love a sleek, uncomplicated design, you can’t beat a straight nerf bar with an oval step.
There is no actual weight difference between the two. It simply comes down to your preferences and what you usually use your vehicle for.
The Bottom Line
Having a big truck or oversized SUV is great, except for times when shorter people need to get in and out of them. Running boards and nerf bars will help you solve this problem.
Maybe you are looking for a nerf bar for protection from other vehicles. Or you want the good looks that nerf bars will add to your truck. The best nerf bar is the one that fits your vehicle and that you love.