Best Jeep Running Boards – 2021 Round-up

| Last Updated: September 8, 2021

If you’ve just installed a lift kit or leveling kit on your Jeep, you understand how difficult it can be to hop out of your Jeep.

Even some Jeep models that ride a bit higher can be hard to enter and exit, especially for the small-proportioned individual. But solutions are just one step away: running boards.

By installing running boards on your Jeep, you can enter and exit the vehicle easily while also adding a cool, sleek aesthetic to your ride.

Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B

How to Choose Running Boards for Your Jeep

Not all running boards are created equal. Before you buy a set, you need to make sure you get something that suits your needs and tastes. With so many options on the market, this can feel exceedingly difficult. But by expanding your knowledge, you can narrow your search and find the perfect running boards to accentuate your ride. Here’s what to look for.

Different Materials

If you want to make a statement or just blend your running boards with the Jeep, you’ll have to consider a few different materials. Depending on your tastes, running boards come in these materials:

  • Stainless steel
  • Chrome
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Fiberglass

Some of these running boards also may incorporate LED lights, which can add an alluring accent to your Jeep if a minor light show is on your radar.

Types of Running Boards

Running boards run alongside the bottom of your Jeep. There’s no gap in between the body of the vehicle and the running board itself. This provides a sleeker, streamlined appearance. 

However, you can also opt for a few other choices. Nerf bars are another type of running board that has gained traction in the industry. These are similar to running boards in that they run wheel to wheel, but the way they fit provides a noticeable gap between the Jeep and the nerf bar itself. Nerf bars are also tubular, which may provide the sporty touch you desire.

Another option is side steps. These don’t run wheel to wheel, but rather go right next to the door. They’re usually not quite as wide as running boards, but they provide an effective way to get in and out of the Jeep.

KARPAL CH1215001

Electric or Fixed

Running boards also come in two types: electric and fixed. Fixed running boards are the cheaper option, as they don’t require any electronics. You simply slap them into place, bolt them in, and you’re done.

Electric running boards, on the other hand, retract and extend at the touch of a button. Not only do these add a touch of luxury, but they can also avoid issues with ground clearance that fixed running boards may pose.

Traction Considerations

If you’re an avid off-roader, you may also want to think about traction on your running boards. While some running boards are just metal or hard plastic with textured areas for your feet, other products come with textured rubber that can provide an additional layer of safety.

Review of the Best Jeep Running Boards

Now that you have a basic idea of what’s available in the world of running boards, you can put your focus on individual models. Take a look at some of the top-review running boards to get a better idea of what product would be a great addition to your Jeep.

Best Overall

Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B

Tyger Auto TG-JA2J2239B Star Armor Kit for 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK 4 Door (Exclude 2018 Wrangler JL Models) | Textured Black | Side Step | Nerf Bars | Running Boards

Specifications

Warranty: Limited Lifetime

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on

Color/Material: Black powder-coated steel

Type: Traditional running board

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Review

If you want a sleek and stylish addition to your Jeep, these Tyger Auto running boards should do the trick. Made of sleek, durable, powder-coated metal, the running boards can stand up to the test, even if you want to take your Jeep off-road. Drilled stars act as both traction control, as well as a nice touch that differentiates these running boards from some of the other available ones on the market. However, a lack of instructions and mounting hardware may pose a problem for novice DIYers.

Bottom Line

Although these Tyger running boards may require a second person for installation due to the sheer weight of the product and some problems with holes not aligning, they’re still one of the top options for durability and aesthetics.

Pros

Extra durable

Streamlined aesthetic

Cool star armor design

Easy to install for people with intermediate knowledge

Specialized “E-coat” both in and out for enhanced durability

Cons

Extremely narrow compared to other options

Super heavy; installation may require two people

Some holes don’t align with the body of the Jeep, requiring extra drilling

Runner-up

KARPAL CH1215001

KARPAL Pair Side Step Running Boards Nerf Bar Compatible with 2018 2019 2020 2021 Jeep Wrangler JL Unlimited 4 Door ( Excl JK Model ) Replacement Part # 82215164

Specifications

Warranty: 12-month unlimited mileage

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on

Color/Material: Black plastic

Type: Traditional running board

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Review

Plastic running boards? Some might say it’s an abomination. That is until they get a look at these Karpal running boards. Made from molded, high-impact hard plastic, these running boards not only look great, but they’re surprisingly durable, even if you’re an avid rock-crawler or off-roader. No modification is necessary to install, and with just a screwdriver and a wrench, you can add another dimension to your Jeep in about an hour.

Bottom Line

When you have a strict budget, these KARPAL running boards just might be the best bet. With perfect color and style match to your Jeep’s existing trim, they also look like they came with the vehicle when you drove it off the lot. While the plastic may be concerning for some buyers, many reviewers praise its durability, despite not offering the same weight limit as metal running boards. If you’re on the thrifty side, this is a savvy choice.

Pros

Highly affordable

No modification required

Mounting hardware included

Surprisingly sturdy with no flex

Matches perfectly with stock Jeep trim

Cons

No instructions included

Metal brackets on the underside can rust

Made of plastic, which may concern some buyers

Best for the Money

TAC Side Steps Running Boards

TAC Side Steps Running Boards Fit 2018-2021 Jeep Wrangler JL 4 Door SUV 3” Texture Black Side Bars Nerf Bars Step Rails Off Road Automotive Exterior Accessories (2 Pieces Running Boards)

Specifications

Warranty: 5 years

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on

Color/Material: Black powder-coated steel

Type: Side step/nerf bar hybrid

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Review

If you want the look of a nerf bar with a wider stepping pad for your feet, TAC Side Steps Running Boards fit the bill. Made from black powder-coated steel, they’re highly durable while also fitting the looks of your Jeep. And with easy-to-follow instructions and clearly stamped pieces, you can install them quickly without guessing where everything goes.

Bottom Line

Although durability and rusting issues persist among some buyers, the overall consensus is that you won’t find powder-coated steel running boards at such a low price. Plus, you’ll get a five-year warranty and quick installation, upping the ante and making this one of the best buys for the money.

Pros

Easy-to-follow directions included

Rust-resistant, anti-scratch design

Novices can install them in about an hour

UV-resistant, 3” pads for easy footing/traction

Custom mounting brackets with powder-coated finish

Cons

Unresponsive customer service

Pads can fall off within a few months

Problems with rusting after about a year

Best Running Boards For Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

AMP Research 75122-01A

AMP Research 75122-01A PowerStep Electric Running Boards for 2007-2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited, 4-Door

Specifications

Warranty: 5 years

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on with some drilling required

Color/Material: Black anodized, military-grade aluminum

Type: Electric running board

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Review

When you want to add a bit of luxury to your Jeep in the form of running boards, there’s no better solution than these electric running boards from AMP Research. With automatic extend/retract features when you open and close the door, the futuristic appeal of these running boards is undeniable. A drop of 12.5 inches is another great feature, as this is more than double what fixed running boards typically offer. If you have a lift kit and don’t want to worry about a grave misstep, these running boards are an excellent choice.

Bottom Line

Budget-conscious buyers will balk at the heavy sum of moolah for these running boards, but you’ll know that it’s money well-spent. The automatic feature is a jaw-dropper and the LED lights add another dimension to your vehicle. If you have the budget, you probably won’t find a better option to suit your needs.

Pros

Made in the USA

Drops 12.5 inches

LED lights included

Heavy-duty OEM electric motor

Boards extend and retract automatically when you open and close the door

Cons

Poorly written directions

LED lights only adhered with double-sided tape

Difficult to install for those unfamiliar with electronics

Best Jeep JK Running Boards

Hooke Road Running Boards

Hooke Road Running Boards Tubular Side Steps Rocker Rails Compatible with Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited 4 Doors 2007-2018 (Pair)

Specifications

Warranty: 2 years

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on

Color/Material: Black powder-coated stainless steel

Type: Traditional running board

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Review

When you need a top-notch running board for your Jeep JK, Hooke Road Running Boards are a great purchase. With a weight limit of up to 290 pounds courtesy of a sturdy stainless steel frame, you won’t have to worry about bending if you’re a larger human. The carved steel stars add another touch of style while the three-tube styling blends aesthetics with protection for your Jeep’s rocker panel.

Bottom Line

Although the two-year warranty and issues with failing rivets may seem a bit disconcerting, the durability of the product and the overall styling should be enough to quell your fears. And if you’re not the handiest person in the world, you can rest easy knowing that the installation process is far easier than some of the other running boards on the market.

Pros

Easy to install

Sturdy and durable

Star footpad graphics

E-coat applied to protect from rust

Three-tube styling protects Jeep’s rocker panel

Cons

Weak rivets that can break

Problems with the boards being level

Rattling reported, even after proper installation

Best Mopar Jeep Running Boards

Mopar 82210565AB

Mopar Jeep Wrangler Side Steps Running Boards Molded

Specifications

Warranty: Limited lifetime

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on

Color/Material: Black plastic with aluminum core

Type: Traditional running boards

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Review

When only OEM quality parts will do, these Mopar running boards are the only purchase you need to make. Because they’re made by Mopar, you’ll know that installation is easier than other aftermarket parts and that the color will match up perfectly with your existing trim. Even though they’re plastic, these can hold upwards of 250 pounds, allowing you to get in and out of your vehicle without the fear of bending or breaking the running boards.

Bottom Line

If you’ve had bad experiences with some aftermarket accessory companies in the past, Mopar running boards should put your mind at ease. While the price is a bit high for plastic, these running boards provide a lifetime warranty, instantly putting your mind at ease.

Pros

OEM quality

Matches existing trim

Quick, easy installation

Light and strong design

Made specifically for the Jeep

Cons

Difficult-to-follow directions

May require extra drilling for some buyers

Holes may not line up with the Jeep’s frame

Best Jeep TJ Running boards

EAG Nerf Bars

EAG Nerf Bars Side Step Armor Rock Guards Tubular Fit for 87-06 Wrangler TJ YJ

Specifications

Warranty: Limited lifetime

Length: Wheel to wheel

Installation: Bolt-on with drilling required

Color/Material: Black powder-coated alloy steel

Type: Nerf bars

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Review

When you want to add a mix of convenience and style to your Jeep TJ, EAG Nerf Bars are a premier product that will check all of the boxes. Welded in one piece for superior strength and featuring Rocker Guard side armor, these nerf bars will protect your vehicle, as well as support a weight of up to 250 pounds. The price is also something that will turn heads with similar nerf bars often costing hundreds of dollars more than the EAG model.

Bottom Line

Adding a bit of sportiness to your Jeep only takes an hour with the style and ease of installation of EAG nerf bars. While quite a bit of drilling is required, it’s a minor inconvenience for a dramatic boost to your Wrangler’s aesthetics.

Pros

Comes with mounting hardware

Designed for lifted, off-road Jeeps

Excellent value compared to similar products

One-piece welded design for superior strength

Rocker Guard side armor protects the body of the Wrangler when off-roading

Cons

Professional installation is highly recommended

Welds on the actual boards can fail prematurely

Mounting hardware is flimsy and requires special tools; some buyers opted to weld these on

Are Running Boards Necessary?

Running boards aren’t necessary for all Jeeps. To some degree, it’s a matter of preference. From a safety perspective, running boards are a smart decision, especially if you have a lift kit or leveling kit on your Jeep.

If you don’t have a lift kit on your Jeep, adding running boards is entirely your prerogative. It’s less of a safety issue and more of an accent piece on your car. However, you should be aware that running boards may pose ground clearance issues, especially if you don’t have a lift kit on your car.

When you have a lift kit, safety is paramount. While running boards aren’t a necessity, they can make entering and exiting the vehicle safer than simply jumping up or pulling yourself into the vehicle. Safety concerns are heightened if you’re an avid off-roader, as uneven or treacherous terrain can make your egress far more difficult and potentially dangerous.

Running Boards Comparison

Although the running board is used as a universal term for the metal that runs alongside your Jeep, two other similar solutions exist: the nerf bar and side step. However, some distinct differences can sway you to a particular product. Here’s a quick breakdown of these options.

TAC Side Steps Running Boards

Running Board vs Nerf Bar

Running boards are made from either one or two pieces of metal that bolt to the frame of the Jeep. In most cases, they’re wider than nerf bars to provide more room for your feet and come in different lengths to suit your needs. Some running boards may also come with a power option, which allows you to press a switch to put the boards up and down.

Nerf bars are similar to running boards, but they also have a few differences. Unlike the flat surfaces of a running board, nerf bars are often tube-shaped or rounded. While they may have a more aesthetic appeal, they don’t provide as much traction or foot space for you to enter and exit the Jeep. They’re also a bit weaker when it comes to weight limits, as they hold roughly 30% to 40% less than running boards.

Another major distinction is that nerf bars aren’t against the body of the Jeep like the running board. Instead, they’re spaced away from the body of the vehicle, providing a visual distinction that you may find more sporty overall.

Running Board vs Side Step

Side steps are another option that are in the same space as running boards, but they also have some distinct differences. Rather than running the entire length from wheel to wheel, side steps are only alongside the door. Typically, these are installed only on the front driver and passenger side, but you can also install them in the rear to accommodate ease of entry and exit for other occupants.

Side steps are the ideal choice if you’re looking to save a bit of money or if you have a high lift on your Jeep. Keep in mind that these are often only about the width of your foot, so you’ll need to know where they are to avoid tumbling out of your vehicle.

AMP Research 75122-01A

Price Points of Jeep Running Boards

If you want to put running boards on your vehicle but you’re worried about the price, don’t stress too much. Running boards come in a variety of styles and brands that can fit your budget. So whether you have no budget or a tight one, knowing what you can get for the money will better position you to buy the ideal set of running boards.

$200 and Under

For $200 and under, you can still get a quality pair of running boards. However, these may suffer from durability issues and come with only a one- or two-year warranty. In most cases, rust is a factor, but you can also get a set of plastic running boards that are impervious to rust. If you’re on a budget, read reviews and do your research, but a good running board is still attainable.

$200 to $1,000

In the next price range, you can expect a five-plus-year warranty and a higher grade of steel or aluminum in your running board. Low-end electric running boards make an appearance at this level, but you can also purchase some of the best fixed running boards that money can buy.

Over $1,000

For over $1,000, you’re paying for luxury. Automatic extending/retracting running boards are standard at this price range. Furthermore, you’ll find lifetime warranties and military-grade aluminum that mixes durability with a lightweight design that makes them easier to install without giving up the weight limit.

Hooke Road Running Boards

Put Your Best Foot Forward With the Best Jeep Running Boards

Whether you opt for running boards, nerf bars, or side steps for your Jeep, you’re adding a nice aesthetic touch and even some added safety to your Jeep. Just make sure to go with a quality part to ensure the longevity, durability, and safety of your new running boards.

People Also Ask

Although you may have a firm grasp on everything you need to know about Jeep running boards, you may have some additional concerns or confusion about them. Here are some of the top questions that people also ask to make the buying process and installation easier.

Does Jeep Make Running Boards?

While Jeep doesn’t have any branded running boards, MOPAR and Chrysler still manufacture several options. These are OEM quality and should serve as a great choice compared to aftermarket products from other companies.

Can You Put Running Boards On a Jeep Cherokee?

You can put both nerf bars and running boards on a Jeep Cherokee. However, due to the dimensions of some models, you may need to get custom-made running boards for them to install smoothly without any overwhelming modifications.

Can You Install Running Boards Yourself?

If you’re handy with a set of tools, have basic knowledge of cars, and follow the included directions, you can definitely install running boards yourself. The entire process takes one to three hours depending on how handy you are. If you aren’t confident, you can always take them to an auto body or custom shop to have them professionally installed. This should cost you about $150 to $200 on top of the cost of the running boards.

Who Worked on This?


Brian

Editor

A master of organization, Brian helps keep everything running smoothly for Your Jeep Guide.

No Jeep yet but we’re working on that!

Cory

Writer

Cory loves his XJ and frequently thrashes it through the hills. He’s constantly fixing something.


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