Rock climbing can be great fun as long as your truck is equipped with the right off-roading gear. The big tires and lifted suspensions are a given for getting over those obstacles, as are some types of protective custom bumpers. One other item you might want to seriously consider is rock sliders. If you enjoy putting your truck to the test over really rough terrain, a set of rock sliders can really protect the underside of your outfitted off-road truck.
What Are Rock Sliders and What Do They Do?
Rock sliders are strong metal protectors that get bolted to the underside of an off-road truck along the rocker panels. Usually made from tubular steel, these guards protect the rockers and the bottom sides of the vehicle from damage caused by rocks, stumps, and other trail obstacles as the truck is driving over them.
Built and correctly installed, sliders can withstand the hitting and scraping that happens when bottoming out as you’re driving over rough terrain and other trail obstacles. You can also use rock sliders as a great step for getting in and out of tall 4×4 trucks.
Does My Truck Need Rock Sliders?
That depends on what you like to do with your outfitted off-road truck. Typically, this type of protection is important for anyone who enjoys rock climbing and testing their limits on really hard trails. They might not be as necessary for those who keep it tame, but where is the fun in that? You never know when you’re going to come across a stump or rock in just the wrong place that will make contact with the rocker panels and dent them up.
Considerations on Rock Slider Construction
There are two types of rock sliders out there, the showy ones used as a step and the strong ones that actually protect your truck. Taking this into consideration, here are some qualities you’ll want to look for in a good set of rock sliders:
Material – Use a slider that’s made from DOM or HREM carbon steel as opposed to aluminum that is not durable enough and will dent and crush easily. Aluminum is actually more expensive and can break easily if not welded correctly.
Size and Thickness – Whether buying them pre-made or making them yourself, use a slider made of either round or square 1.5” to 2” steel tubing or panels that are at least 3/16” thick. Tubes should have â…›” to 3/16” walls for required strength.
Bolt or Weld – Welded-on sliders provide stronger protection overall, although it involves some custom framework at a welding shop. Bolted on sliders require drilling the frame, which could reduce the resale value of the vehicle. Side Bars Bolt-ons are not quite as strong as weld-ons and drilling the frame invites rust. Welded-on sliders are recommended for anyone who needs the best protection with minimal rust and greatest vehicle protection. They must be secure and strong enough to support the weight of the entire truck if wheels come off the ground.
Rust Protection – To protect against corrosion, many just use spray paint for touch-up after each time out on the trail. Others don’t mind the cost for more durable coatings. Besides spray paint, sliders can be either powder coated or coated in a rubberized bedliner product. Both methods are more expensive yet provide better rust protection. Powder coating may crack, however; the spray paint may be a more economical choice even if it involves frequent touch-ups.
Most off-roading folks will want to invest in a set of rock sliders, even if they only hit the milder trails. It’s cheap protection against damage that is harder to repair after the fact. A bolt-on aluminum set might be just enough for the occasional rock climber. For anyone who is out there all the time and pushing the limits, welded steel is the way to go. Protect your investment with this important armor and reduce the wear and tear on your favorite off-roading truck!