Reviews

Best Nerf Bars: Improve Your Truck’s Style and Function

Use these Nerf bars to give your truck a sporty look while protecting it and making it more functional

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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON July 15, 2021

Owning a big truck is great, but there’s one big caveat: ease of getting in and out of the truck. It can be a pain, especially if you have little ones or elderly passengers that you’re driving around. Nerf bars can give your truck an extra step that will make it easier to get in and out. They also give your truck a sporty look. Try one of these sets of Nerf bars on your truck.

Best Overall
Ionic 5-Inch Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars
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Summary
Summary

These curved tubes enhance the look of your truck with shiny stainless steel. The 5-inch non-slip step pads make them functional.

Pros
Pros
  • These tubes are durable and made out of 304 marine grade stainless steel
  • This makes them resistant to corrosion 
  • The step pads have internal reinforcement to make them structurally stronger
Cons
Cons
  • These only fit particular models of trucks, so make sure they fit yours before you order them
  • They also need to be carefully installed, or they won’t feel so secure when you step on them
Best Overall
Ionic 5-Inch Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars
Best Value
TAC Side Bars Nerf Bars
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Summary
Summary

These Nerf bars have a sleek and shiny look. Two black rubber step pads blend in to make the bars look sleek and continuous. 

Pros
Pros
  • To get the black look, a heavy-duty black powder coating finish is used
  • This improves the bar’s looks and protects them from corrosion
  • They’re also easy to install
Cons
Cons
  • Make sure you confirm the actual measurements of the bars to verify that they will actually fit your truck
  • You may notice some bend or flex when standing on them
Best Value
TAC Side Bars Nerf Bars
Honorable Mention
LUND Oval Curved Nerf Bars
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Summary
Summary

These black Nerf bars are powder-coated to make them corrosion-resistant. They feature a straight design with curved ends. There are two non-slip rubber steps.

Pros
Pros
  • The stepping pads on these bars are extra wide to give you more foot room and increased stability
  • They also come pre-assembled, so they’re easier to install
Cons
Cons
  • These bars will begin rusting despite the powder coating finish
  • You may also have some problems with pitting
Honorable Mention
LUND Oval Curved Nerf Bars

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Benefits of Nerf Bars

  • Protection. The original use of nerf bars was to provide protection for your truck. The rails extend between the front and back tires to protect the side body of your truck. They can still do this for you in parking lots or from road debris.
  • Style. Choosing the right set of nerf bars means you can enhance the look of your truck. If you have other chrome accents on your truck, then a set of chrome nerf bars are the perfect accent. Or you could go for a tougher look and choose black powder-coated nerf bars.  
  • Safety. When people get in and out of your truck, it can help to have an additional step. This is especially true for children and the elderly. Having an extra step increases stability and reduces the risk of slipping or falling. 

Types of Nerf Bars

Cab Length

These nerf bars add both style and function to your truck. They’re best for a truck that is used as a daily driver or for carting the family around. The steps only extend the length of the cab. This puts the steps right where you need them to be when getting in and out of the truck. They also work well for off-road trucks because their shorter length gives them more flexibility and clearance. 

Wheel to Wheel

These nerf bars extend from just behind the front wheel to just in front of the rear wheel. These are perfect for trucks that have a front and back seat. The extra length means you can use the back end of them as a step to reach into the bed of the truck or up to a roof rack. You’ll find that there are two built-in step pads for the two doors. 

Oval

This halfway shape between round and flat gives them a style that complements your truck. The oval shape will give you more space for your foot on the pads. They’re bolt-on, which makes for easy installation and no drilling. They come in a wide variety of designs and finishes, so you can purchase a set to match your truck.  

Sport

These nerf bars are meant more for looks and decoration than for use. They’re thinner and lack the flat footsteps that oval bars have. Their weight capacity is also lower. You’ll find that they are smooth, straight tubing that will extend along the length of the truck. The ends are then curved in towards the truck. You’ll mount them on the rocker panel, which makes them perfect for lower-sitting trucks. 

Top Brands

Lund

Founded in 1965, Lund produces high-quality fiberglass products. It began with making exterior sun visors for heavy-duty trucks. Today, though, one of its most well-known products are nerf bars. Check out the Lund Polished Stainless Steel Oval Curved Nerf Bars for your Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra. 

TAC

The Truck Accessories Company is one of the top suppliers in America for aftermarket accessories. The company has over 20 years of experience, giving them the knowledge necessary to instill unparalleled quality in their products. The TAC Side Steps are the perfect accent for your Sierra or Silverado. 

N-FAB

For just over 10 years, N-Fab has produced the best looking and most durable off-roading and truck accessories. The company is committed to crafting durable accessories that will last. The N-FAB Dodge Ram Textured Black Nerf Step set is the perfect addition to your Dodge Ram. 

Westin Automotive

Based out of San Dimas, California, Westin produces high-quality aftermarket truck accessories. Its goal is to combine form and function to create unique accessories. Check out the Westin Pro Traxx Oval Step Bar-set for a rugged-looking set of bars. 

Nerf Bars Pricing

  • Under $200: These are the most basic of nerf bars. They’ll have features like curves and rubber footsteps. The metal used will be thinner and lighter. You’ll also find the smallest sets for smaller trucks in this price range. 
  • $200 to $300: Most nerf bars fall into this range. You’ll find chrome and powder coating finishes. The tubing will vary in diameter, but is typically between three and five inches. 
  • $300 and up: These are the largest sets of nerf bars and the highest quality bars. Trucks that are extended cabs need longer bars, and this is the price range they fall in. You’ll also find shorter sets that have more features, such as a special finish, additional steps, or fancy designs. 

Key Features

Size

Start by measuring your truck and choosing the length. Decide if you want bars that extend from wheel to wheel or just under the cab. Cab length bars are perfect if you like to go off-roading. Wheel length bars are better for work trucks. You also need to look at the diameter of the metal tubing. This will change how the bars impact the look of your truck. Larger tubing makes a bolder statement. 

Shape

There are three basic shapes to choose from: flat, round, and oval. Flat nerf bars are commonly called running boards and create a solid flat platform the entire length of the cab. Round nerf bars are sleeker and more low-profile. Oval bars give you a nice balance between the flat and round options. 

Finish

Choosing a finish is about enhancing the look and style of your truck. The two most common finishes are chrome and powder-coated black. If you have other chrome accents on your truck, then the chrome will look beautiful. The black works well for all other trucks that don’t have chrome anywhere else. A third option is a polished metal, but it lacks the shine and impressive looks that the other two options have. 

Other Considerations

  • Material. High quality nerf bars are made out of steel. Lower quality bars will be made out of aluminum. When looking at steel bars, you’ll notice that there are several different types of steel used. The highest quality will use marine-grade steel. This will make them corrosion-resistant, despite their exposure to water. 
  • Running Boards vs. Nerf Bars:  While both options will provide you with a stable surface to place your foot when getting in and out of the truck, they create very different looks. Think about which will enhance the look of your truck more and give you the platform necessary for your passengers to feel secure. 
  • Platform Size: Look at the platform where your foot will land. The larger this flat area is, the easier it will be to place your foot onto it. You also need to look at the traction level. Some cheaper nerf bars just create a rough spot or use a plastic insert. Higher quality bars will have a rubber insert. 

Best Nerf Bars Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Ionic 5-Inch Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars

These step bars from Ionic have a gentle curve and will perfectly fit a Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra crew cab. They have a curved shape to them at the ends to enhance the look of them and your truck. The tubes are made of stainless steel with 5-inch non-slip step pads. 


The steel used is 304 marine-grade stainless steel to give them the most strength and durability. It also makes them resistant to corrosion. Inside the tubing, there is additional reinforcement under the step pads for additional structural strength. 


Unfortunately, these bars only fit certain models of trucks, so you’ll need to make sure they fit your truck before buying. You also need to be careful when you install them to choose the right mounting locations. Otherwise, they won’t feel secure when you step on them. 

Best Value
TAC Side Bars Nerf Bars

These TAC nerf bars will fit a Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra extended or double cab. They have a sleek and shiny look to them thanks to the glossy black finish. To give them stability when stepping on them, there are two black rubber step pads. 


The black step pads blend into the black bars for a streamlined accent to your truck. You can have confidence in the black finish. It’s a durable black powder coating that’s resistant to scratches. 


However, you need to be careful about measuring your truck for these bars. You need to make sure that these will fit your truck. You’ll also notice that they have some flexibility to them. This can make it feel like they’re bending when you step on them. 

Most Durable
Lund Oval Curved Nerf Bars

These Lund black steel nerf bars are designed to fit a Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon Crew Cab. These powder-coated nerf bars are durable and corrosion-resistant. They have a slight bend at the ends to give them a bit more design and style to enhance the overall look of your truck. 


You’ll appreciate the extra-wide step pads on these bars. This will give your feet more of a platform to increase stability when stepping on them. They also come pre-assembled, which makes installation super easy. 


Unfortunately, you may notice these bars rusting despite their powder-coated protective finish. You’ll also see some issues with pitting in the finish.

Easiest To Install
MaxMate Stainless Steel 3

If you have a 1999-2018 Chevy Silverado or Sierra, the MaxMate Stainless Steel 3" Side Step Rails Nerf Bars are a great option. Designed for regular cabs with two front doors, these two nerf bars fit the driver and passenger sides. The mounting brackets are strong and provide two mounting positions, and all hardware is included. No drilling is required, and installation takes just minutes.


The bars are made of heavy-duty, 3-inch-round stainless steel tubing, which is rust-resistant. They are also UV-resistant with a non-slip surface area. These nerf bars look great and are a good option for those who have a hard time getting into their trucks due to health issues or height limitations.


There are not many complaints about this product. However, the bars may not be marked left or right, so you may need to determine which sides they need to go on. Also, they may appear longer in photos than they actually are, so make sure to check the dimensions.

Honorable Mention
Tyger Auto 4 Inch Black Side Step Nerf Bars

The Tyger Auto 4 Inch Black Side Step Nerf Bars are designed for the 2005-21 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab with four full-size doors. They fit perfectly, the instructions are clear, and they're easy to install because all mounting hardware is included. These step bars feature 4-inch wide, heavy-duty triangle mild steel tubing that's powder-coated, and they are rust- and UV-resistant.


Users report that they are solidly constructed and well made overall. They don't reduce ground clearance due to their design, and several components under the truck hang lower. They are just as good as—if not better than—OEM nerf bars at a fraction of the cost, and they look clean on your truck.


Unfortunately, these running boards do not fit the Toyota Tacoma Access Cab. They may also get a little slippery if they get wet even when you step on the textured areas.

Tips

  • Think about the look that you want to create for your truck. This will help you decide on the perfect finish. They typically come in black powder-coated, polished, chrome, texture powder-coated, black, painted, and anodized aluminum. 
  • You’ll need to choose between a textured spot on the bar or a rubberized pad. This is when you balance looks and safety. The rubber may be more noticeable and disrupt the looks, but it’s safer than having just the texture. 
  • Make sure you buy the right length of bars. They need to run the entire length of the cab, or from wheel to wheel. You also want the step areas to line up with where the doors are on your truck. 

FAQs

Q: Are there any other options besides Nerf bars?

A: You could also install running boards or side steps onto your truck. Running boards are the wide, flat steps that run along the bottom of the truck. Nerf bars were originally installed to protect the undercarriage of trucks, but today, they also serve as a step. Side steps are a small step right at the door of the cab. They can be a challenge to use and can cause injury if you miss while getting out. 

Q: How do I know what size to buy?

A: There are two sizes you’ll need to look at when buying Nerf bars. First is the length. Cab-length bars will extend the length of the cab. Wheel-to-wheel bars are slightly longer and will run from just behind the front wheel to just in front of the back wheel. The length you choose will depend on the look you’re going for. The other size to look at is the diameter. Larger tubes give you a bolder look and more space for your foot on the bar. 

Q: How do I install Nerf bars?

A: The good news is that many vehicles come from the factory with the holes pre-drilled for Nerf bars. If this is the case for you, then you just have to bolt the bars through these holes. If you don’t have these holes, then you’ll need to drill holes in your truck’s frame. The bars should be centered with the cockpit of the truck. Tighten the bolts and check each bar to confirm they’re secure before you start using them. 

Final Thoughts

The Ionic 5-Inch Stainless Steel Curved Nerf Bars give your truck a sporty look while protecting your truck and making it easier to get in and out.

The budget-friendly TAC Side Bars Nerf Bars give your truck a sleek look with beautiful black bars.