Most of the time, truck and SUV owners need a boost hopping into the vehicle's cockpit and truck bed or accessing the roof. Running boards address the need for a lift and secure footing when getting in and out of the vehicle's cabin while hitch steps are made for easier access to the truck bed or the roof.
If your ride already has running boards and you're now thinking of outfitting it with a hitch step to make it ready for your next adventure, here's a list of the qualities you should look for to find real value for your bucks:
This part is going to bear your weight while you are finding your way to the truck bed or to the roof, so make sure that the step you'll get is built tough enough to carry you many times over. Check its rated capacity and the thickness of the steel tubing making it up. Make sure also that the step comes with rust-resistant finish or materials.
Almost all hitch steps in the market promise secure footing and non-slip grip by adding different types of anti-slip foot pads. Base your choice on which step pad you think will provide you with better grip, even when your shoes or feet are wet and slippery. It would be better if the non-slip pad is pressed into the tubing and not weakly fastened into the surface.
Wide stepping area
If you have long, big feet or you're worried that the step's tubing may be small enough to offer you secure footing, you'd better go for one with wide stepping area. With this feature, you'll be able to balance yourself better while doing something in your vehicle's roof.
Compatibility with the hitch receiver
Whether you'll get a folding hitch step or tow bar step, you have to make sure that it is compatible with the hitch receiver installed in your ride as this will ensure easy installation and user safety. If the step isn't installed properly due to incompatibility with the receiver, it may fall off the vehicle once stepped on.
Of course, the appearance of your vehicle's rear end also matters. So when choosing any add-on such as a hitch step, you should always consider its effect on the vehicle's aesthetics. You should also determine first if the step you are planning to purchase will go well with the rest of the add-ons you've installed on the rear.
Ease of installation
Since most people don't have all the time in the world to work on their vehicle, it is wise to get a hitch step that's easy to install yet still safe to step on. Go for one that requires no drilling or modification especially if you're just a novice DIYer. It is also a good idea to get a step that comes with complete installation kit, so you'll have everything you need in getting the step installed in your ride without doing several purchases.
You can also consider other features such as LED lights, anti-rattle mechanism, storage bag, and drop-down step. However, don't expect that these additional features and benefits come for free. Much like when purchasing a vehicle, the more add-ons and features you get, the more expensive the step becomes. But if you really need certain features for your hitch step, spending a few more bucks for them will surely be worth it.