Running boards, I am told, are a hot selling item that many manufacturers are rushing to the market with, and most are not that really complicated consisting of a big metal bar and some rubber pads.
Right off the bat there needs to be a distinction between rock or frame sliders and running boards because some 4×4 marketers conflate the two terms when they sell rocksliders that act as steps as well!
Rock-sliders mount to the frame to take abuse. Most Running Boards are “just steps” and not designed to be trail armor equipment.
Leave it to a marketing department to take something simple and make it need to be explained! Yet they do that so they can hit “niche markets” and all sorts of other evil back room corporate things. Terms like nerf bars, side tubes, etc. all are just variants of the same thing.
You have quite a few options. A brand, Ultimate Truck Gear, even has a $2000-dollar option that they advertised equips your truck with gun storage running boards! Yet, it is serious that storage boards are a viable commodity. The supper internet tools at answerthepublic.com show that one of the most commonly googled running board questions is “storage running boards.”
My opinion on them is that I’m amazed that “storage running board broke how to fix” isn’t a close second because I wouldn’t want tools (let alone guns) hanging low unprotected over the asphalt.
The second thing google told me is people seem to love them or hate them, people seem to be looking up “how to remove running boards” or “my truck without running boards” just as much as “running boards for (insert truck)” or “running board with (x feature).”
So you can change the style of running board, remove them, or add ones with Wang-Zip features all with the click of a mouse. That click gets you model specific bolt-on pieces shipped rather cheaply for the size.
à la mode (that’s French for in fashion)
Because I feel my readership is rather enlightened as to what they need in a step (not slippery and stable), that discussion can be skipped.
What has been shifting that many might not be aware of is taste. Taste in running board styles is a moving target. As such it makes it a really good category to make a splash at the SEMA New-product showcase like this piece from Iron Cross Automotive does
The general consensus is that Standard cab should just go cab length, lifted or work trucks should go wheel to wheel, and most the time the other accessories like bumpers often choose what style you use. If you have a roof rack you want a step, and if you have an expensive grille guard it should match the running boards which are so easily interchangeable compared to bumpers, etc. that often are limited in choice.
So it’s not that you want to pick them randomly out of a million options, but let the other options pick them for a complete look.
That said, I have a few pet peeves style wise to air out.
I’ve never seen the integrated Dully step and said “I like how that looks.”
I also tend to find the paint match pieces become a major source of the old-and-busted raggedly appearance with just minor wear, and on 2000 and up model year SUV’s they only accentuate the Crossover is code for MINIVAN look.
And I feel mixed about the moving AMP research running boards. They are really trick when they work, and really sad when they don’t. If you’re trying to impress ladies, they most certainly seem expensive; they are too expensive for my taste and over the multiple years that the company has held the patent I haven’t seen them move to take the reliability beyond the three-year window most give them. Anyways keep ‘em working or ditch them.
These all get to the one fashion rule I think I can set down for running boards. For the most part, even on beaters, busted or worn boards fail to add to the vehicles ruggedness and only serve to make it look tattered. Go spend the money and get new ones.