Rock Sliders VS Nerf Bars VS Running Boards

 In 4Runner, 5th Gen 4Runner Mods

4Runner Rock Sliders Vs. Nerf Bars and Running Boards

4Runner Rock Sliders

Aftermarket Rock Sliders, Nerf Bars or the Stock Running Boards for your 5th Gen 4Runner

When choosing 4Runner Mods and Accessories, 5th Gen 4Runner Rock Sliders and Nerf Bars are some of the most common upgrades. Recently, we wrote a post on the Top 10 4Runner Mods and Sliders/ Nerf Bars were definitely on the list.

Whether you choose Rock Sliders or Nerf Bars, Automatic Running Boards, or the 5th Gen 4Runner N-Fab Nerf Bar $340 for your 4Runner will depend on what you intend on using it for. All of these options while for the most part serve the same purpose are completely different overall.

Aftermarket 4Runner Running Boards & Step Options?

  • Stock Running Boards – Basic Steps
  • Automatic Running Boards – Hidden Steps
  • Nerf Bars – Minor Protection/ Stepping
  • Rock Sliders – Max Protection/ Steps or no Steps

In this article, we will be going over the pros and cons of all these upgrades. We will also help guide you in the right direction of choosing what you need for your 5th Gen 4Runner.

5th Gen 4Runner Rock Sliders

2016 Trail 4Runner Swell Runner - Slee Rock Sliders

Rock Sliders are an upgrade that provides the best protection for your 4Runners rocker panels. Rock sliders, like the Metal Tech 4Runner Rock Sliders, are made of a stronger material than nerf bars. Rock sliders do exactly what is in the name. They slide on rocks, stumps, and humps so if your hung-up on a rock they will slide off. Instead of worrying about damaging your rocker panels the sliders take the damage instead.

Every scratch or blemish the sliders receive is one less to your 4Runner. That alone is a huge plus for anyone who off-roads their daily driver. While most sliders are only meant to protect your rockers they do sell dual purpose sliders. These sliders have features like indentations for you so they double as step bars. That is a great thing for anyone who has a lifted 4Runner who wants protection and steps.

Overall sliders are a great purchase for those who do any type of off-roading in their 4Runners. Dual purpose sliders are great for those like we previously mentioned use there 4Runner as a daily driver but still off-road or trek around on simple trails.

Best Options for Aftermarket Rock Sliders

  1. Metaltech 4Runner Sliders  – Check Today’s Price
  2. C4 Fabrication Rock Sliders
  3. Slee Off-Road Rock Sliders
  4. Shrockworks Sliders
  5. CBI Rock Sliders W/ Kick Outs
  6. White Knuckle Off Road (Clean)
  7. Pelfreybilt Rock Sliders
  8. Hefty Fabworks Rock Sliders
  9. Bud Built 5th Gen Rock Sliders

Rock Slider Pros

  • Full Protection
  • They look Bad-Ass
  • Better Aerodynamics
  • Optional Steps/ Plates Offered
  • Re Powdercoat if Scratched-Up

Rock Slider Cons

  • Super Heavy
  • Not Affordable
  • May need to powder-coat

5th Gen 4Runner Nerf bars

5th Gen 4Runner Nerf Bars - NFAB

The Nerf bar is the most common upgrade out of all of these. The Nerf bar was originally created to keep race car tires from getting caught between tires in other cars. In the 60/70s nerf bars were becoming popular for trucks and SUVs to add protection. While nerf bars (commonly, the 4Runner Nfab Nerf-Bar) do offer protection they typically are not made from a thick metal. So, Nerf bars are best on your 4Runner if you are doing light trail’s or if you 4runner is just a daily driver.

They are great at protecting your 4Runner from getting dinged up from other peoples car doors. On trails, they add protection from small things but most rocks will destroy them. Nerf bars all come with some sort of spot to be used as a step. Modern nerf bars while providing the protection they do, are designed to be used as steps.

So nerf bars are what you should purchase if your 4Runner is your daily driver or you do light-weight trekking around dirt roads and fire-roads.

Best Options for Nerf Bars

  1. Nfab Nerf Bars, Easy Install – Check Today’s Price

4Runner Nerf-Bar Pros

  • Easy Install
  • Medium Protection
  • Provides a step
  • Protects against door dings
  • Re Powdercoat if Scratched-Up

4Runner Nerf-Bar Cons

  • Can lower MPG due to aerodynamics (Some say, kind of a stretch)
  • Not typically aesthetically pleasing
  • Can be fairly heavy with mounts

5th Gen 4Runner Running Boards

Stock Running Boards - 5th Gen 4Runner

While running boards are an option on most 4Runners, yours may not have come with them so we will include this section.

Running boards serve no protection from anything major. They do however still provide minor protection from small objects including rocks, humps, and stumps. These little obstacles could potentially hit your rocker panels.

Other than this minor protection, running boards are more or less for decoration. They do function as a step but typically are not as sturdy as any aftermarket options. The reasoning for that is like we said, they are more of a decorative accessory.

The Automatic Running Boards?

There are companies that make running boards that retract. These running boards are sturdy and meant to be used as a step when entering or exiting your 4Runner.

The advantage to retracting running boards is better aerodynamics vs having them stick out, they also look so much better. Overall, running boards should only be used on your 4Runner if it is a daily driver or you need minor protection.

Best Options for Aftermarket Running Boards

Stock Running Board Pros

  • They work…
  • Minor damage protection
  • Not many pros here

Stock Running Board Cons

  • Damages easily
  • Plastic Sucks
  • Bulky
  • Not very pretty

5th Gen 4Runner Automatic Running Boards

5th Gen 4Runner Automatic Running Boards

5th Gen 4Runner Automatic Running Boards are the go-to aftermarket solution for many soccer mom 4Runners. Also, Automatic Running Boards are a solid choice for 4Runner owners that do not plan on hitting “rugged terrain”. Let’s keep in mind here that you can d0 any dirt road and most “off-road” trails with these Automatic Running boards and be just fine.

Your 4Runner has plenty of clearance on its own. Running a set of these Automatic Running Boards would really work for so many 5th Gen 4Runner owners if you like the look. This is a great option for 4Runner owners that like the look of no stock running boards, but are present when you open the doors.

The Automatic Running Boards for your 4Runner come in a few different options but most of them operate the exact same and have a similar look and feel.

Its simple: When you open your door, they pop out and down. When you close your door, they suck back into place.

Best Options for Aftermarket Running Boards

Automatic Running Board Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Provides a step
  • Provides a “heightened” Look

Automatic Running Board Cons

  • Not Cheap
  • Damages easily
  • Advanced Install

What Rock Sliders or Steps are for your 4Runner?

5th Gen 4Runner Rock Sliders

So when it comes to choosing which type of Bar, Step, Board or Slider your 4Runner needs it all depends on what you do. Let’s look at the main points below to determine what each application is best for.

  • Rock Sliders: If you are someone who does a lot of Off-Roading, Trekking around or exploring backcountry roads, rock sliders are for you. 4Runner Rock Sliders offer the most protection for your 4Runner so you can go Off-Roading without worrying as much about body damage.
  • Nerf Bars: If you are someone who does some offroading but your 4Runner is still a daily driver nerf bars are for you. The 4Runner Nerf Bars will protect you from most damages on easy and medium trails. They will also protect you from other cars that might hit your 4Runner with there doors.
  • Running Boards: If your 4Runner is your daily driver and you have zero intention of going off-road, you will want to stay with running boards. They protect against minor damages that occur in everyday life.
  • Automatic Running Boards: With the Automatic Running Boards, they can be hidden if you’re only wanting function. Automatic Running Boards are also great for anyone looking for an adventure, you like the look and only need minimal clearance.

At the end of the day, we recommend Rock Sliders for your 5th Gen 4Runner as they provide the most protection. But, the Nerf Bars really kick ass too if you are an occasional trekker. The choice is yours but at the end of the day, HAVE FUN and go explore something new!

If you have any questions or comments, as always – DROP YOUR COMMENTS BELOW.

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  • William

    I got the rock sliders as well. Heavier but well worth it in the long run and also helps with door dings big time! I have the RCI ones that were powder coated. Easy install with KDSS.

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