When it comes to comparing side steps and rock sliders, they are worlds apart.
Getting ready for an epic 4×4 adventure? Is your 4wd is just a weekend warrior? You should be looking at getting some form of side protection!
As with everything, deciding what protection you need will depend on what you are driving and where you are intending on taking your 4×4. If you are only ever going to drive on the beach you will find that your factory alloy steps might be sufficient. Once you start to take on the tough tracks you should be looking towards something that can take a hit. This is where a good set of rock sliders prove their worth.
4×4 rock sliders. Side steps. What’s the difference?
Alloy steps are made from aluminium that have some form of channeling to make them ridged enough to stand on. Sometimes they will have a plastic outer shell for looks. They will be attached to the body of the vehicle with some thin pressed brackets. As a step they are great but they offer little to no side protection.
Steel side steps are mostly a single tube design with some alloy checker plate on top. Typically attached to the chassis by only two steel brackets. They do offer some side protection but they won’t be able to support the weight of your vehicle resting on them time and time again.
Rock sliders are a twin tube construction with four or more connections between the two tubes. They’ll have 3-4 chassis mounting points and are normally on an up swept angle. Rock sliders offer the best side protection and will be able to take hits all day long. Being rigid enough to support the weight of your vehicle also means you’ll be able to high lift jack off of them as well.
Side Steps Vs Rock sliders
I know what you’re thinking. Surely these big brand name 4wd company side steps are going to handle the tough stuff. Regardless of the premium these brands charge, they are simply not designed to take the weight of your vehicle.
The first time I put my rig down on it’s steel step my heart nearly broke. The amount of flex in the step made me realise they weren’t the strongest option. Also the reality of not being able to use a high lift jack on them set in. In no time at all the side steps were bent like bananas and looking very 2nd hand. To their credit though, they did protect the sills. But they quickly got to the point where the next hit was going to cause damage.
Rock sliders do exactly what their name suggests. Slides over rocks and every other obstacle that you don’t quite have enough clearance for. They are solid enough to support the weight of your vehicle and not budge at all. When investing in rock sliders make sure you use a fabricator with a rock solid reputation like Phat Bars. This way you will end up with a product that can take a hit and stand the test of time.
Rock sliders = no regret.
We have a set of Phat Bars angled rock sliders installed on our Fortuner. They are twin rail, outside is tube and inside is box for added strength. Chassis mounted with 3 supports makes them rigid enough to support the weight of our Toyota Fortuner. They are strong enough to take a hit when I choose the wrong line or bite off more than I can chew.
When it came to our Fortuner build we were never going to use anything other than rock sliders. We had already suffered the disappointment and learned the hard way with steel steps. The adventure of what lies beyond always draws us in, which is why we need the best protection around. And why we installed rock sliders over side steps.