Rock sliders and steps are something you may have been debating about getting for your Tundra. However, each has a different purpose, and you need to know what your needs are before you make your purchase. Let’s dive into what the differences are, what each one is better at, and what are some options for your Toyota Tundra.
WHAT ARE STEPS?
Steps accomplish just what they are called: they are steps. Generally, these will bolt to the body of your truck to give you easier access to climbing into the cab or your Tundra. They are great if your truck is lifted, if you have a harder time getting into vehicles, or if you simply want a more aggressive and off-road look.
WHAT ARE ROCK SLIDERS?
Rock sliders are for the more serious off-roaders and overlanders who need some extra protection. Generally, rock sliders will bolt to the frame of your Tundra, and are designed to take the impact of your truck falling down onto rocks during your crawling expedition, and distribute the force evenly to protect your Tundra’s body from damage. As the name suggests, they are normally smooth and snag free to help your truck slide off rocks and obstacles.
CAN THEY BE THE SAME?
While they may look similar to the untrained eye, there is a big difference. Rocker sliders can have built in steps, which will make them steps as well. However, steps cannot be rock sliders. Sort of like the ol’ “a square is a rectangle but a rectangle isn’t a square.”
Mounting location and build quality make a big difference as well. Steps do not need to be made of the most durable materials because they are not designed for taking impacts. They just need to hold you. This can allow them to also be bolted to the body of your Tundra, making them easier to make and install, but your truck’s body should not be taking impacts. Steps that hang low can also get caught on rocks and obstacles.
Sliders are usually made of higher grade materials with more durable finishes. With the frame being the most durable part of any vehicle, mounting the sliders to them keeps your Tundra safest if you are to hit a rock. The smooth bottom design accomplishes the “sliding.”
STEPS - TYPES AND EXAMPLES
Now that you have the terms and the basic idea down, let’s go over some types and examples that work for your Tundra. This is not an exhaustive list. These are just some ideas based on what people are liking on Facebook groups, forums, and even our customers.
Hoops Steps and Nerf Bars
These terms are generally interchangeable. These are one of your more common types of steps. Hoops can come double or single, depending on your cab or which kit you purchase. In simple terms, they are a “hoop” that is a few inches shorter than your cab to act as a step. Single hoops may require drilling to fit depending on the kit. Double hoops are generally attached to one long bar that attaches to your Tundra. Since they extend a bit lower, they are great for an aggressive look!
Rough Country has been making all sorts of truck gear for years. These steps for your 2007 to 2021 Tundra come with two steps on each side, all constructed of heavy duty steel. They are finished with a black powder coating with a zinc base for long lasting durability. If you have any doubts, they come with a lifetime warranty.
These N-Fab steps are built tough with three inch steel. They have a patented drop down step to allow easy access into your truck. You can get them finished in a gloss or textured black finish with their unique three stage powder-coating process. There is even an extra step near the back to make access to the front of your bed a breeze. They are backed by a five year warranty and can be yours for $400 to $600, depending on the length of your truck and options.
If you want a sleeker approach, running boards could be a good option to consider. These are basically one long step that extends the length of the cab. However, unlike nerf bars/steps, these don’t generally drop down much. They are designed to allow passengers to hang on to the outside of the truck (generally while holding onto hopefully something like a roof rack). Since most people will not be doing this, we can just chalk it up to they help make your truck look cool! Due to the nature of the construction, it’s not uncommon to find the “board” made out of plastic.
If you want to give your truck a more aggressive look, these bolt-on HD2 running boards from Rough Country will help you achieve your goal. Each run is a solid, one piece construction, and each step has two non-skid plates with a stamped “RC” logo for good looks and easy entry. Just like the nerf bars they offer, these also come with a lifetime warranty. They cost $350 for the pair, and will fit CrewMax cabs from 2007 to 2021.
If you want to keep everything a little more “Toyota,” then why not pick up some OEM running boards. With OEM, you can be sure fitment will be perfect, and they will be built the way Toyota engineers know they need to be, and designed to flow with the lines of your truck. While they may not offer as much real estate for your feet as some aftermarket ones, you still can’t do wrong with the way Toyota intended. You can find these for about $420.
Retractable boards are going to be your most expensive option, but if you want to add some luxury and class to your Tundra, here you go. When you open or unlock your door (depending on the manufacturer), these will lower to allow you to use them as a step. When you close or lock your doors, they will retract back up out of the way. These will of course take a little extra time and skill to install since there is an electronic component. While you will never want to use these as sliders or any type of protection, they will surely add to the luxurious feel.
These running boards are designed to extend when you open your door, and retract when you close your door. They come with built-in LED lighting that shines down on the boards for visibility in any conditions. It’s American designed and engineered, and backed by a five year, 60,000 mile warranty. Prices vary depending on the model and cab size, but an average cost will be around $1450. While a little on the steeper side, that is pretty on par with most retractable steps.
Not to mention Rough Country again, but Rough Country has these retractable running boards for 2014 to 2021 CrewMax Toyota Tundras. They drop down six inches when you open the door and have an integrated LED light to make sure you can see your running board in any lighting. They are made out of aluminum and finished with a durable corrosion-resistant finish to allow for a long life. While the non-moving Rough Country steps and running boards have lifetime warranties, this one comes with a three year warranty.
Unlike steps, there are not really different “types” of sliders. Of course each one may look different, but they accomplish the same thing: protect your Tundra. If you do see any with built in steps, they will resemble running boards. Keep in mind that “slide” is in the name. They are to help your truck slide off rocks, so hoop/nerf bar style of steps would do the complete opposite and get you stuck. Here are some options to consider.
These bolt-on sliders are made by a company that has been making all sorts of high quality off-road accessories for Tundras for years now. You can choose an optional kick out at no additional cost, and you can choose a black powdercoated finish, bedliner finish, or a raw finish for you to finish them as you please. Prices start at $1000.
I have featured Victory 4x4 on here before for some of their unique products. These sliders take into consideration daily drivers. You might not want something “super off-road looking” on your commutes to work, but love rock crawling on the weekends. These sliders offer the protection of sliders, but look like running boards. They are made in the USA, and do require some drilling for off-road use. Prices start at $1050.
If you want something rugged but completely bolt-on, RCI Off-Road offers this kit. You can choose between CrewMax or Double Cab, as well as if you want a top tread plate or not, and a black powder coated finish or bare metal. They are made in the USA with prices starting at $1025.
Sliders and steps are definitely two different things. They both serve a purpose, and it’s up to you to figure out what you need on your Toyota Tundra and what your budget is. Hopefully this list was able to help you make your decision, or at least point you in the right direction. Now, get out there, and step up your Tundra’s game. Get it?
Rough Country Nerf Steps - Courtesy of Rough Country
N-Fab Nerf Steps - Courtesy of N-Fab
Rough Country Running Boards - Tundras user “Mike’s Custom Toys”
Toyota OEM Running Boards - Courtesy of Toyota Direct
AMP Research Running Boards - Courtesy of AMP Research
Rough Country Retractable Running Boards - Courtesy of Rough Country
Cali Raised Sliders - Right here at Emyre Off-Road!
Victory 4x4 Sliders - Courtesy of Victory 4x4
RCI Sliders - Courtesy of RCI