Side Steps vs. Running Boards: A Comparison for Trucks and SUVs

As an off-road enthusiast, you understand the importance of having the right accessories for your truck or SUV. To enhance the overall functionality of your vehicle, two popular options are side steps and running boards.  We’ll explore the pros and cons of each product to help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

Side Steps

Side steps are individual step bars installed on the sides of trucks and SUVs, typically located under the doors. They offer a convenient stepping platform and provide several benefits for off-road enthusiasts.



– Improved vehicle accessibility: They provide an easy and safe way to enter and exit your vehicle, especially if it has been lifted or equipped with larger tires.

– Protection for lower body panels: They help shield the lower body panels from rocks, debris, and other potential damage during off-road adventures.

– Added style and aesthetics: Side steps come in various styles and finishes. This allows you to personalize your vehicle’s appearance to match your tastes.

– Versatility: They can be installed on both sides of the vehicle, providing access for all passengers.



– Reduced ground clearance: Side steps may slightly decrease ground clearance. This can be a concern when navigating challenging terrains with steep angles or deep ruts.

– Limited protection: While they offer some protection, side steps may not safeguard the entire length of the vehicle’s sides from potential damage.

– Weight and durability: Depending on the material used, side steps can add weight to the vehicle, and lower-quality options may be prone to bending or damage in extreme off-road conditions.


Running Boards

Running boards are larger, wider platforms that extend along the length of a vehicle’s sides. They are typically between the front and rear wheels. They offer a larger stepping surface and provide additional benefits for off-road enthusiasts.



– Enhanced accessibility: Running boards offer a wider stepping platform, making it easier to enter and exit your vehicle, especially for passengers with mobility limitations.

– Increased protection: They provide greater coverage to the lower sides of the vehicle. This produces improved protection against rocks, debris, and potential damage during off-road excursions.

– Utility and versatility: Running boards can double as a step for accessing roof racks and securing cargo. They can even serve as a makeshift seat or table during outdoor activities.

– Durability: Running boards are generally built to withstand more rugged conditions, making them suitable for off-road adventures.



– Reduced ground clearance: Similar to side steps, running boards may slightly decrease ground clearance. This can potentially limit your vehicle’s capability in extreme off-road situations.

– Style limitations: Running boards tend to have a bulkier appearance compared to side steps, which may not suit everyone’s aesthetic preferences.

– Weight and aerodynamics: Running boards can add more weight to your vehicle. This can affect fuel efficiency and potentially impact the aerodynamics, particularly at higher speeds.


When choosing between side steps and running boards for your truck or SUV, consider your specific needs and preferences. Side steps offer easier vehicle access, some protection, and a range of styles. However, running boards provide more extensive coverage, durability, and additional utility. Remember to balance these benefits against the potential drawbacks, such as reduced ground clearance and added weight. Ultimately, the choice between side steps and running boards will depend on your priorities, the type of off-road activities you engage in, and the overall look you desire for your vehicle.