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Nerf Bar Buying Guide: Brands, Advantages, & Types

Nerf bars have become a classic piece of off-roading equipment. They add a lot to your vehicle’s looks, but they also shield the sides and undercarriage from rocks and heavy road debris. And with the right design, they offer solid stepping surfaces into your truck or SUV. Now here’s the question of the day: Which one do you buy? A quick review should help you figure out the best nerf bars for trucks that fit your driving needs.

Knowing Where and How You Ride

Each off-roading style has its own terrain and hazards. Green lane and cross-country riders can sometimes get away with stock equipment on their vehicles. But then you have mud bogging, rock crawling, hill climbing, water fording and desert riding. All those require different types of upgrades – and that even’s true for your nerf bars.

Ground clearance is a key factor when shopping for nerf bars. Overlanders typically don’t run into hardcore terrain like rock crawlers do – unless of course, they’re rock crawling overlanders. For rock crawling or hill climbing, you’ll need super-strong bars to withstand the average terrain and obstacles. But ground clearance isn’t everything. Water forders also lift their machines, but they don’t deal with the same obstacles as rock crawlers.

Types of Nerf Bars

Choosing the best nerf bars for your riding style is important. With that said, you’ll usually encounter four types on the market:

  • Cab-length
  • Wheel-to-wheel
  • Oval
  • Sport tube

Cab-length bars extend from right behind the front wheel and stop just before your truck’s payload bay. Most come with two treaded slip-resistant step pads and offer more ground clearance. Wheel-to-wheel types extend farther and add a third stepping surface near the rear wheel. Their longer length makes it easier to reach into your truck bed and hard folding tonneau cover from the side. Oval bars are a classic option for many reasons: wider stepping space, sleek looks and easy installation. Sport tubes are smaller in diameter and have a lower weight capacity than other bars. They’re designed more for aesthetics than utility.

Brands To Know

With literally dozens of brands on the market, finding your new nerf bars can be a challenge. But that just gives you more options for outfitting your vehicle. Most major manufacturers offer cab-length styles, but notable names include Dee Zee, Lund, Raptor, Rugged Ridge and Smittybilt. Some popular makers of wheel-to-wheel bars include Steelcraft, Go Rhino, Luverne, Westin and Iron Cross. Nearly every brand offers oval bars. And if you’re a hill climber or rock crawler, you may want to invest in a high-quality pair of rock sliders. The Rhino Dominator is an excellent choice for full-sized trucks. Both tough and affordable, the Dominator offers no-drill installation and balances a full steel construction with a slim profile. Jeep and SUV off-roaders should check out TJM’s Rock Sliders. With solid protection, ground clearance and two T-slot recovery jack points, Rock Sliders score high marks for functionality.

No matter what kind of bars you buy, shopping at a trustworthy retailer is important. For your nerf bars, Weathertech floor mats or anything else, choose a dealer with clear pricing, reliable shipping and great customer service.

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