Best Jeep Gladiator Side Steps, Running Boards, and Nerf Bars

Updated on Mar 13, 2024

The Jeep Gladiator is undoubtedly one of the most exciting, off-road-centric pickups to debut in the past decade. With solid axles, front and rear multi-link suspension, and a narrow mid-size body, the Gladiator practically begs for a lift kit and oversized tires. Unfortunately, these modifications open a can of worms. How can you enjoy your Jeep when you can’t comfortably climb into the driver’s seat? 

No driver wants to struggle to gain entry into their pickup, and neither will passengers! After modifying your Gladiator, one thing is clear: it needs some side steps! These accessories lower the access point into your Jeep’s cab, combating tall ride height. Side steps also offer stable, non-slip step surfaces, preventing injury-inducing slips and falls. 

We offer a massive selection of side steps at RealTruck, including various styles, constructions, finishes, and more! Unsure which brand or model best suits your Jeep Gladiator? No problem! In this guide, we’re covering side steps for Jeep’s off-road-ready pickup, including any special considerations when shopping side steps for the platform, the variances you’ll encounter when browsing our inventory, and some of our experts' top-recommended products!

Jeep Gladiator-Specific Considerations

When shopping side steps for a Jeep Gladiator, you’ll need to consider a few unique factors. First and foremost, consider off-road capability; the Gladiator is built for trail use, regardless of whether you use it as intended. As a result, Gladiator side steps should offer high ground clearance and superior durability. You’ll also want side steps that offer comprehensive rocker protection, preventing unsightly dings and dents to your Gladiator’s body.

Side Step Variances

Now, let’s discuss some of the variances you’ll encounter when shopping for Jeep Gladiator side steps. These accessories come in countless styles, materials, and finishes, ensuring a product that suits the needs and preferences of every Jeep enthusiast!


Side steps come in numerous styles. Some of the most popular include:

  • Running Boards: These popular side steps offer excellent cab access, featuring a wide, flat, cab-length step surface. Running boards typically attach to your Gladiator’s rocker panels and offer moderate rocker panel protection.

  • Nerf Bars: These tubular side steps typically feature an oval or round main tube that runs the length of the cab. Molded step pads sit beneath each door, improving traction.

  • Sliders: Whereas most steps emphasize accessibility, sliders emphasize rocker protection. These durable steps feature robust constructions and superior rocker panel coverage, preventing dents, dings, and abrasions to your Gladiator’s sheet metal. 

  • Hoop Steps: A rugged, minimalist step featuring a tightly tucked main tube with welded-on drop steps. Hoop steps offer sleek aesthetics and superior ground clearance compared to most running boards and nerf bars.

Fixed Position vs. Retractable

Aside from the previously mentioned step styles, steps come in fixed-position and retractable configurations. Fixed position steps represent the vast majority of side steps, featuring solid mounts that affix the step in a stationary position. Alternatively, retractable side steps feature hinged mounts and integrated motors, automatically retracting and deploying the step. 

Both designs have their pros and cons. For instance, retractable steps offer superior ground clearance and aesthetics; however, rocker protection is limited. Retractable steps are also significantly more expensive, often costing upwards of $1200! By comparison, fixed position steps are durable, cost-effective, and easy to install; however, they may negatively impact ground clearance.

Frame-Mount vs. Rocker Mount

Another consideration is mounting configuration, determining the step's overall strength. Most steps mount to your Gladiator’s rocker panels, offering moderate strength and durability under conventional use. However, when subjected to extreme abuse off-road, rocker-mount steps will likely cause the rocker panels to bend and distort. 

Alternatively, frame-mount steps bolt directly to your Gladiator’s steel frame. This mounting configuration is far more durable, resisting impacts and abrasions for superior rocker protection. Still, frame-mount steps are typically more challenging to install, often requiring drilling and welding.

Cab-Length vs. Wheel-to-Wheel

When shopping Jeep Gladiator steps, you’ll also encounter two lengths: cab-length and wheel-to-wheel. Cab-length steps stretch the length of your Gladiator’s cab, easing access to the passenger compartment. Alternatively, wheel-to-wheel steps stretch from just after your Gladiator’s front tire to just before the rear tire, covering the entire cab and front-most section of the bedside. 

Wheel-to-wheel steps offer bedside protection and improved bed access, as most feature integrated steps just behind the cab. These additional steps allow for quick, easy access to items at the front half of your Gladiator’s bed.


Construction is another variance you’ll note when browsing side steps, namely material choice. Though most manufacturers employ alloys for maximum strength, they utilize a few different materials, including:

  • Carbon Steel: This strong, readily available alloy is known for its immense durability. Steel is commonly used on structures like safety cages, wheels, bumpers, and more! While robust, steel is also heavy and corrosion-prone. 

  • Stainless Steel: Unlike carbon steel, stainless steel features a high chromium content to fight corrosion. This chemical change has little effect on strength or durability, making it an excellent choice for corrosion-prone areas. 

  • Aluminum: Unlike carbon steel or stainless steel, aluminum is incredibly lightweight, making it a common building material for planes and ships. This material offers moderate strength and corrosion resistance, though it will oxidize under certain conditions. Regardless, aluminum is light, durable, and relatively corrosion-resistant, making it a popular choice for automotive accessories.


Next, let’s cover side-step finishes. Unlike material construction, a step's finish refers to its treatment, plating, or coating that results in the product’s overall aesthetics and corrosion resistance. The most popular finishes include: 

  • Paint: Automotive-grade paint is sleek, durable, and UV-resistant. Though this finish offers a long lifespan in most conditions, it’s also more prone to chipping and scratches than other options on the market. 

  • Powder Coat: A durable coating that’s impact, abrasion, oil, chemical, and UV resistant. Powder coating involves applying a heat-cured polymer directly to the bare metal. Once baked, this finish is tough to beat! 

  • Chrome Plating: Though commonly applied for aesthetic purposes due to its lustrous finish, chrome plating is also highly corrosion resistant! This process involves electroplating a thin layer of chromium over the raw steel, preventing rust and corrosion. 

  • Polished: Though commonly mistaken for chrome plating, most polished finishes aren’t plated, painted, or powder coated! Instead, this lustrous finish results from sanding and polishing the base alloy, resulting in a mirror-like finish. Polished alloys may receive a clear top coat to prevent oxidation and tarnishing.

Top Jeep Gladiator Side Steps: Expert’s Picks

With side step considerations and configurations handled, let’s check out our expert’s top picks! Each of the products outlined below offers exceptional build quality, simple installation, and excellent cab access.

For extra-large builds, consider the AMP Research PowerStep XL running boards! These high-end, retractable running boards extend 4 inches lower than conventional PowerStep running boards, providing an easily accessible step into the cab. The PowerStep XL’s cab-length, extra-wide, 6-inch step surface provides exceptional traction in all conditions. 

Aside from The PowerStep XL’s extra low, extra-wide design, they offer all the same features consumers have come to love about the company’s original PowerStep system. These include durable and lightweight aluminum construction, military-grade PTFE coating, integrated convenience lighting, and automatic deployment as you or a passenger opens your Gladiator’s doors! 

AMP Research PowerStep XL Running Boards come backed by a 5-year limited warranty. 


  • XL boards extend 4 inches lower than the original PowerStep

  • Premium, single-motor design automatically deploys and retracts boards

  • Corrosion-resistant cast aluminum construction

  • Anodized, then finished with a military-grade PTFE coating

  • 6-inch wide, cab-length step area

  • Textured, slip-resistant step surface

  • Integrated LED lighting illuminated steps for safe entry

  • Optional Override Switch is available for manual control

  • Includes vehicle-specific installation guide, mount kit, and hardware

  • Mounts to vehicle's rocker panel

  • Connects to OBDII port using patented Plug-N-Play module

  • Professional installation is recommended

  • 5-year limited warranty

What’s better than a set of rugged rock rails? How about rock rails with detachable drop steps? N-Fab’s RKR Step System offers just that, featuring 1.75-inch tubular steel construction and a welded 1-piece design. Installing just the RKR rails provides exceptional rocker protection and minimally impacts ground clearance, ideal for trail use. However, N-Fab also includes durable, bolt-on steel steps that mount to the rails in minutes, drastically improving cab access! 

N-Fab proudly manufactures the RKR Step System in the USA and backs each order with a limited lifetime structural and 5-year finish warranty. 


  • RKR Step System includes a pair of RKR rails and detachable RKR steps

  • 1.75" diameter steel tubing construction

  • Treated inside and out and finished with a textured black powder coat

  • Welded 1-piece construction for strength and longevity

  • Simple bolt-on installation

  • USA-made

  • Limited lifetime structural | 5-year finish warranty

For classic aesthetics and exceptional accessibility, N-Fab Black Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Bars are tough to beat. These rugged, tubular steel nerf bars feature a 3-inch tubular steel main structure and full-welded drop steps, easing entry into your Gladiator’s cab. Corrosion resistance is handled by a sleek, textured black powder coat finish, guarding against unsightly rust and scaling. 

N-Fab Black Wheel-to-Wheel Nerf Bars feature a simple no-drill installation using vehicle-specific brackets and hardware. All orders are proudly manufactured in the USA and backed by a limited lifetime structural and 5-year finish warranty.  


  • Durable 3” tubular steel construction

  • Textured black powder coat finish

  • Patented drop-step design

  • Simple, no-drill installation

  • Sold in pairs

  • USA-made

  • Limited lifetime structural | 5-year finish warranty

Treat your Gladiator to the sleek styling it deserves with Go Rhino RB20 Slim Running Boards, featuring a slim, 5.5-inch profile and plate steel construction. Go Rhino RB series running boards feature Raptor-inspired styling, tucking high and tight for maximum ground clearance. Though sleek, these running boards offer exceptional rocker protection, sufficiently protecting your Gladiator’s body against dings, dents, and scuffs. 

Go Rhino RB20 Slim Running Boards feature durable 16-gauge steel construction. All running boards receive corrosion-resistant zinc plating before the textured powder coat or bedliner finish, providing double protection against rust! 

These running boards offer simple bolt-on installation at your Jeep’s rocker panels. Each order comes backed by a limited lifetime structural and 5-year finish warranty. 


  • Galvanized 16-gauge steel construction

  • Textured powder coat or protective bed liner coating

  • Slim, 5.5" profile

  • Rugged perforations let dirt slip right through keeping the board free of debris

  • Installs to vehicle's rocker panel

  • Includes vehicle-specific mount kit and instructions

  • Easy, bolt-on applications (no drilling required)

  • Rugged RB-Series raptor styling

  • Limited lifetime structural | 5-year finish warranty

If you prefer classic styling, check out Go Rhino 4” O.E. Xtreme Black Side Bars! These running boards feature a factory-inspired rectangular tube design and textured black finish, blending seamlessly with textured black trim and accents. The step’s SuperGrip™ molded ABS step pads provide exceptional grip, while molded ABS end caps keep dirt and debris from collecting in the step tubes. 

Go Rhino 4” O.E. Xtreme Black Side Bars feature simple, no-drill installations. Go Rhino backs each order with a limited lifetime structural and 5-year finish warranty. 


  • Durable carbon steel construction

  • Corrosion-resistant textured black powder coat finish

  • Rectangular tube design

  • 4" step surface 

  • SuperGrip™ molded ABS step pads and end caps

  • Cab-length design complements factory styling

  • Vehicle-specific fitment

  • Includes all mounting hardware and instructions

  • Sold in pairs

  • Simple, bolt-on installation

  • Limited lifetime structural | 5-year finish warranty

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