The 5 Best Truck Running Boards Brands – [2021 Reviews]

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

 

If you plan to upgrade your truck with a new accessory, adding a truck running board is a sensible choice. Good-quality truck running boards add value to your truck alongside improving its appearance, protecting its paintwork from road debris, and helping you and your passengers to climb inside.

The only problem you have is choosing the best truck running boards, nerf bars, or side steps for your truck. The best truck running boards come from a handful of manufacturers and are identified by their well-known brands. To help you identify these reputable makes, the 5 best truck running board brands are reviewed below.

Best Truck Running Boards Brands

 WestinTyger MaxMate
editors choice
Westin-23-2115-Black-Step-Bar1Tyger-Auto2MaxMate3
Located inSan Dimas, California, USACalifornia, USAUSA
Founded Founded over 40 years agoFounded in 2013
Founded in 2009
Special FeaturesA broad choice of styles, High-quality materials

A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials

A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials

Customer Ratings4.6 / 5.04.9 / 5.04.5 / 5.0
Best Running BoardBest Running BoardBest Running Board

Also see: Best Truck Running Boards Brands Comparison Table


Quick Answer: The 5 Best Truck Running Boards Brands – [2020 Reviews]

  1. Westin
  2. Tyger
  3. MaxMate
  4. TAC
  5. APS

Best Truck Running Boards Brands Reviews

#1 Westin

rollator walker

Westin-23-2115-Black-Step-Bar1

Westin truck running boards at a glance:

  • Located in San Dimas, California, USA
  • Founded over 40 years ago
  • A broad choice of styles
  • Options for all makes and models
  • Running boards customized for a specific make, model, and year
  • Stylish designs
  • High-quality materials

Westin Automotive has been designing and manufacturing aftermarket automotive products in San Dimas, California, USA for over 40 years. It is one of the best-known and reputable truck running boards and nerf bars manufacturers in the nation. They design practical truck running boards for active truck owners that offer both functionality and good looks.

Westin manufacture running boards with or without LED lighting, wheel-to-wheel nerf bars, and side steps. Westin running boards are made to fit a specific make, model, and year of truck. Westin also makes other automotive accessories for trucks, such as winches and bull bars, so you can buy a range of accessories that match one another in style.

One of the most attractive features of the Westin brand name is that Westin Automotive has so many different Westin running boards to choose from. Whatever make and model of truck you own, you can find a running board or nerf bar that fits your vehicle to perfection.

With so much choice, you can select a Westin running board with a specific look that you really like. This also gives you the freedom to choose a running board best suited to your budget. You can purchase anything from affordable PRO TRAXX 4 OVAL NERF STEP BARS to top-of-the-range R7 NERF STEP BARS. Westin nerf bars offer you great variety and value for money.

Best Running Board


#2 Tyger

Tyger-Auto2

Tyger truck running boards at a glance:

  • Located in California, USA
  • Founded in 2013
  • A broad choice of styles
  • Options for all makes and models
  • Running boards customized for a specific make, model, and year
  • Easy installation
  • High-quality materials

Founded in 2013 by a consortium of Canadian and American automotive parts experts and based in California, Tyger Auto Inc is one of the newer running board manufacturers. However, they have hit the market running and are already one of the most popular suppliers of running boards in North America.

Tyger emphasizes durability, functionality, and style in their design process. They offer a wide range of running boards to fit any make and model of truck. Their running boards are designed with easy installation in mind, most featuring simple bolt-on installation.

Tyger makes every type of running board, from their durable Star Armor textured nerf bars range to their sleek Blade running boards range.

Tyger makes a good range of running boards that offer a custom fit for specific vehicles. For example, the Tyger Auto TG-RS2C40038 Running Boards are the best running boards for Chevy Silverado because of their sturdy steel construction and easy bolt-on installation.

Best Running Board


#3 MaxMate

MaxMate3

MaxMate truck running boards at a glance:

  • Located in the USA
  • A broad choice of styles
  • Options for all makes and models
  • Running boards customized for a specific make, model, and year
  • Upscale designs
  • High-quality materials

MaxMate is renowned for its upscale running boards and nerf bars. They don’t cut corners when it comes to design and materials, so you can expect sturdy nerf bars made from heavy-duty stainless-steel tubing with welded stainless-steel end caps and not just cheap plastic caps.

Each MaxMate running board is custom designed to the make, model, and year of your truck so that it bolts straight into the factory-drilled mounting holes in your truck’s fame and won’t require you to do any tricky drilling.

Even though MaxMate produces upscale running boards, not all of them are expensive. They produce an inexpensive MaxMate Premium range of side steps with heavy-duty black powder-coated 3” round tubing.

MaxMate running boards are designed with an emphasis on style. Their best running boards combine shiny stainless-steel with black rubber UV-resistant broad non-slip step pads that won’t fade over time. If aesthetics is your main consideration when choosing a running board, MaxMate is a good brand to choose.

Best Running Board


#4 TAC

TAC-Compatible4

TAC truck running boards at a glance:

  • Located in the USA
  • Founded over 20 years ago
  • A broad choice of styles
  • Options for all makes and models
  • Running boards customized for a specific make, model, and year
  • Great aftersales service
  • High-quality materials
From its name, it is clear that Truck Accessories Company (TAC) is dedicated to providing high-quality aftermarket truck accessories such as running boards. TAC has manufactured running boards for over 20 years alongside bull bars and ladder racks.

TAC makes a broad range of side steps, running boards, and hitch steps featuring durable texture grips and a sturdy frame. You can choose from heavy-duty stainless-steel options like those in their Frigate Running Boards range or inexpensive and lightweight aluminum running boards as seen in their Value Aluminum Running Boards range.

If it’s choice you love, TAC is a great brand. Their running boards and side steps come in a variety of shapes and styles so that you can easily find one that suits your taste and is compatible with your truck. TAC also provides great after-sale service to ensure you won’t struggle to install the running board of your dreams onto your truck.

Best Running Board


#5 APS

APS-Premium-iBoard-Running-Silverado5

APS truck running boards at a glance:

  • Located in Ontario, California, USA
  • Producing running boards for over 13 years
  • A broad choice of styles
  • Options for all makes and models
  • Running boards customized for a specific make, model, and year
  • A good range of inexpensive designs
  • High-quality materials
Auto Parts Specialist Inc. (APS) is a long-established grille manufacturer from Ontario, California. In 2007, APS branched out into running boards and now supply running boards, nerf bars, and side steps for Trucks of any make or model.

APS market their running boards and side steps under the trademarks iRunning and iStep. These are manufactured using sturdy but lightweight aluminum and have a black aluminum or shiny aluminum hairline finish.

All APS running boards feature a uniform style that is simple and modern. That makes APS running boards, nerf bars, and steps aesthetically pleasing, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive when compared with other brands. The lightweight design also makes APS running boards more fuel-efficient than the heavier steel running boards from other brands.

The uniform design of APS running boards means you have fewer styles of running board to choose from. However, you can find a running board to match any make and model of truck. For example, if you’re looking for the best running boards for Dodge Ram, APS manufacture a variety of iBoards with a matte black powder coating that look great. If you like the iRunning and iStep style, that’s fine. If you prefer something more tubular or a little different, APS running boards are not for you.

Best Running Board


Best Truck Running Boards Brands Comparison Table

  Located inFounded Special FeaturesCustomer Ratings
WestinWestin-23-2115-Black-Step-Bar1San Dimas, California, USAFounded over 40 years agoA broad choice of styles, High-quality materials
4.6 / 5.0
TygerTyger-Auto2California, USAFounded in 2013
A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials
4.9 / 5.0
MaxMateMaxMate3USAFounded in 2009
A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials
4.5 / 5.0
TACTAC-Compatible4USAFounded over 20 years ago
A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials

4.9 / 5.0
APSAPS-Premium-iBoard-Running-Silverado5Ontario, California, USAProducing running boards for over 13 years
A broad choice of styles, High-quality materials
4.7 / 5.0

Truck Running Board Buying Guide

Now that you know about the best-selling truck running board brands, you may have already decided which running board brand is best for your truck. If you’re still undecided, read the following buying guide to learn more about what features to look for in the best running boards for your truck.

What are truck running boards?

They are steps fitted to the sides of your truck to assist you when you want to climb in and out of your truck or load cargo into your truck bed. They are typically manufactured using ABS plastic, heavy-duty steel, or aluminum and have a non-slip grip.

Running boards are aftermarket accessories that offer both aesthetic and practical improvements. As well as making it easier to climb in and out of your truck, they protect the side of your truck from road debris thrown up as you drive. And running boards act like a doormat, because you can wipe the mud off your boots on the non-slip grip, which protects your floor mats and truck interior from the worst of the dirt when you’re off-roading.

Types of running boards

The 4 most common kinds of running boards are traditional running boards, powered running boards, nerf bars, and side steps. Each type of running board has its own pros and cons.

Traditional running boards

Traditional running boards are wide and flat. They vary between 3” and 6” wide. Running boards follow the contour of your truck, leaving no space between the board and your truck’s sides. They offer maximum protection to your truck’s paintwork from road chips and dirt.

Traditional running boards also provide a safe, non-slip step to help you enter and leave your truck. Some running boards feature LED lights to help you climb aboard in the dark. These are typically connected to your truck’s door ajar sensor and only light up when your door opens. Modern running boards can be made from ABS plastic as well as aluminum or steel.

Powered running boards

Power-operated running boards are a luxurious variation of running boards. When your truck’s doors are closed, these running boards are folded out of the way beneath your truck’s chassis. When you open a door, the step automatically lowers into position. When you close the door, the step returns to its folded position.

Clearly, this option requires more extensive wiring. A control module called an OBD-II port is connected to power motors on the step. Most power-retractable running boards also feature LED lights to illuminate the step when in use.

The advantage of this type of running board is that it does not alter the appearance of your truck (if you don’t like the look of running boards) and your truck is narrower for squeezing through tight passages. The disadvantages of these boards are that they do not protect your bodywork from debris thrown up from the road, and they are the most expensive kind of running board.

Nerf bars

Nerf bars are oval or circular tubes that loop outward below your truck’s door to create a step. They flatten out beneath each door to create a non-slip step to assist you in climbing in and out of your truck.

The similarity in name between nerf bars and Nerf toys is entirely coincidental. Nerfing is a term in racing concerning one racing car bumping into another and overtaking, and nerf bars were originally designed to protect racing cars during this maneuver.

The advantage of nerf bars is that they typically feature a more solid steel or aluminum design that can handle more weight than running boards. The disadvantage is that there is a gap between the nerf bar and your truck through which debris can fly and nerf bars are sometimes more slippery than running boards due to their tubular construction.

Side steps and hitch steps

Side steps are steps mounted beneath your truck’s doorways or behind the rear axle for easy access to your truck bed. This is the running board design that offers the most assistance to people getting in and out of your truck because side step designs are ergonomic.

Side steps are specifically designed as steps and do not offer only minimal or no protection from debris thrown up from the road. Unlike traditional running boards, they are often positioned only below the doors and do not run the whole length of your truck. Hitch steps are mounted on your hitch receiver below your tailgate.

 

What should you consider when choosing the best running boards?

Brand

There are many running board manufacturers to choose from. If you don’t want to waste money, and you want your running boards to be safe to use, you must choose your running boards from a reputable manufacturer. Look for brands that have been around for many years, are well-known, and have generally positive reviews on Amazon.

Type

As already explained, running boards come in 4 varieties: traditional, powered, nerf bars, and side steps. Your choice depends not only on aesthetics but also on practicality.

Nerf bars often look spectacular with a shiny chrome finish, but side steps might be more practical if you want to use your truck for delivering heavy items. If you’re off-roading, traditional running boards are aesthetically pleasing and offer much more protection from mud and debris thrown up by your truck’s tires.

Frame Construction Materials

Running boards manufactured from aluminum or stainless steel are typically more durable, scratch-resistant, and support more weight than those made from ABS plastic. If you’re planning to step onto your running boards while carrying heavy weights, you’ll want running boards made from thick steel. But if you’re a light person and will only be using your truck for driving around the city, ABS plastic running boards will be more affordable.

Step Padding

The steps on running board are made more non-slip by using rubber or plastic pads. Rubber is more expensive but provides the best grip in varied weather conditions. Plastic is the more affordable and common material used, but it wears down easier and can be slippery when cold.

Compatibility

Not all running boards are compatible with every truck. Many are made specifically to fit the contours of a specific truck make, model, and year. You can find running boards, nerf bars, and side steps to fit any truck.

Weight capacity

Every running board comes with a stated maximum weight capacity. If you’re a 200 lbs. bodybuilder regularly loading heavy cargo into the back of your truck, you’ll need heavy-duty side steps that offer a high maximum weight capacity. If you’re a little guy who uses his truck to drive to the gym and work, more inexpensive plastic running boards with a low weight capacity will be fine. The typical weight capacity of a running board ranges between 300 lbs. and 600 lbs.

Ease of Installation

Some running boards are super easy to install and just bolt into pre-existing factory-drilled holes in your truck’s chassis. These take minutes to install, and often one person can complete the job alone. Some other running boards require extensive wiring, especially powered running boards. Even simple running boards may require holes drilled in the chassis.

If you plan to ask a garage to fix on your new running boards, ease of installation will not be a major consideration other than the added cost of a more complex installation. However, if you plan to fit the running boards yourself, you will benefit from choosing boards specifically designed for your make, model, and year that won’t present any great challenges to your DIY skills.

 

FAQs

Who makes the best running boards for trucks?

The best running boards for trucks are manufactured by a small number of aftermarket parts specialists mainly based around California. The most reputable manufacturers are Westin, Tyger, MaxMate, TAC, and APS.

Each of these manufacturers makes a range of running boards, nerf bars, and side steps, so you can choose from inexpensive options or more upmarket, custom-made truck running boards. Which is the best depends upon what is important to you in a truck running board.

If you’re looking for the most affordable running board, APS offers a good variety of inexpensive running boards. If you want the most aesthetically pleasing, MaxMate has a great reputation for style. If you want something easy to install, check out Tyger’s range of running boards. And if you value choice, Westin offers an extensive range of truck running boards.

What is the best brand of running boards?

Westin, Tyger, MaxMate, TAC, and APS are all well-known and reputable running board brands. However, Westin has been around the longest by far and has earned a reputation that is difficult to knock. Westin is the most popular brand of truck running boards for many good reasons, such as their aesthetically pleasing designs, great value for money, and a broad range of choices.

Should I put running boards on my truck?

Running boards are not mandatory for trucks. However, they offer substantial benefits for truck owners. They improve the safety of entry and exit from your truck, protect your truck’s paintwork from debris, and improve your truck’s aesthetics. So, it is a good idea to install running boards on your truck.

Which is better, nerf bars or running boards?

If you need to handle heavier weights, nerf bars are usually more durable and offer a higher weight capacity. However, if you frequently drive through mud, running boards offer more protection against mud thrown up by your tires and are less slippery underfoot when you climb in and out of your truck. Depending on the model, running boards are often more affordable than nerf bars. So, it depends upon what you plan to do with your truck and what your budget is.

The Last Word

Now you know all about running boards and what you should look out for when choosing one for your truck. Running boards can be aesthetically pleasing, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Choose the running board that you like best that is both practical for your everyday truck use and best expresses your personality.

I hope this review of brands and buying guide helps you to decide which running board is best for your truck. Why not let us know what you have decided and why in the comments below?

How We Researched

To come up with the top truck running boards, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as 4×4 Magazine and Outside Online Magazine along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used Fakespot.com to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The staff authors have a wide and varied background in offroading, motorcycling, and auto mechanics. They are eager to share their knowledge with readers.

To help narrow down the selection we used personal experiences along with recommendations from fellow auto-enthusiasts and industry experts.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.

Sources

Notice:

OutsidePursuits.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. OutsidePursuits.com earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon.com. Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.

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