A hitch bumper step uses your vehicle’s rear hitch receiver to make climbing in and out of the back of your vehicle more convenient.

If you get a high-end version, a hitch step can also protect the rear of your car, absorbing some of the energy in the case of a low-speed collision. Investing in a hitch bumper is a relatively low-cost way to protect your car.

As far as vehicle accessories go, hitch step bumpers aren’t that complicated. Typically, all that’s involved is a simple steel, aluminum, plastic, or fiberglass tube covered in plastic, rubber, chrome, or powder coating.

It’s hard to go wrong, but quality does make a difference when it comes to vehicle protection and durability.

Here’s our guide to finding the top hitch steps to meet your needs:

6 Best Trailer Hitch Step Bumpers

Best Overall Hitch Step: TGL Hitch Step

tgl hitch step
  • Capacity: 10,000 lbs.
  • Material: Powder-coated solid steel
  • The High Points: Extremely strong, can be used as tow attachment, height adjustable.
  • The Not-So-Great: On the heavy side, can be slippery, loose on some hitches
Why it’s a Top Pick:

Multi-functionality is always a plus, and this step has the added bonus of functioning as a tow point to attach heavy-duty tow straps. In most cases, it’s strong enough that your hitch’s weight capacity will be the limiting factor, not the strength of the step itself.

In other words, it’s extremely strong. This makes it the most effective choice for bumper protection. It’s also a convenient, wide step for easier trunk and roof rack access. The powder-coated steel is weatherproof and durable. It should last for years, and the matte black also looks sleek.

What Reviewers Say:

This step is widely recognized as a heavy-duty, solid product that gets the job done without hassles. It can be a bit on the heavy side, but more than makes up for that in strength and durability.

The material is high-quality and well-made.

Some people do report that the powder coating is quite slippery when wet, despite being advertised as a non-slip option. Adding a coat of non-slip paint or tape should fix this issue if it becomes a concern for you.

The dark paint can make the step blend almost too well into your vehicle, making it less obvious to other motorists and leading to a few slight scrapes for a few reviewers. Adding reflective tape would add visibility, but this likely wouldn’t be an issue for most people.

Features and Considerations:

The hitch attachment can be loose in some vehicles, which can cause slight rattling. You can always add some electric tape to prevent movement.

There is also an included knob which can be tightened down to prevent rattling. This is sufficient for most vehicle hitches; the step shouldn’t wobble or move at all while in use or while driving.

The step can be installed upside-down to use at a different height, which can be quite useful if you are worried about a low step making you bottom-out on rough roads, or you want a higher step to access the roof for your cargo box.

The Runner-Up:

  • Capacity: Not Provided
  • Material: Steel and rubber
  • The High Points: Sturdy steel, non-slip rubber, fits hitch tightly, can’t crack ankle on it
  • The Not-So-Great: Looks a little too big. Some quality control issues, particularly on the end caps.
Why it’s a Top Pick:

This hitch step is made of high-quality, heavy-gauge steel that feels sturdy and lasts a long time. It provides more than adequate bumper protection for large SUVs and trucks, and offers a convenient step to access the back.

The corners are rounded, making it look more streamlined and making it harder to accidentally whack your knee or ankle on the side of the bar, since the ends are concealed under the bumper. It’s also comparatively inexpensive for what you get, making this step a great buy.

What Reviewers Say:

This product has been on the market for some time, and there are a wealth of reviews stretching back for several years.

Most people find that this step will last for a long time, reliably protecting the bumper for several years unless damaged in a collision.

The one weak point is the plastic caps on each end of the bumpers. They are loosely fitted and look much cheaper compared to the rest of the product. These caps can move over time or work their way off the ends of the bumper.

The end caps are mostly concealed under the bumper, so this likely isn’t a deal-breaker for an inexpensive step like this, but does diminish the overall feeling of quality, which is otherwise quite high on this product.

Features and Considerations:

The material is forged steel coated with heavy-duty forged rubber for more secure footing. It comes with a shim to prevent movement and rattling during transport.

It also uses a “hitch pin” which can be exchanged for a locking mechanism if security is an issue. One thing it does not include is an adapter for smaller hitch attachments, but if you have a smaller hitch, there are adapters available, as well as smaller models from the same manufacturer.

Best Hitch Step With Light Included: BULLY Stainless Steel Trailer Hitch Receiver Step with LED Lights

bully stainless steel trailer hitch receiver step with led lights
  • Capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Material: Steel and plastic
  • The High Points: Fits multiple hitch sizes, foam gasket reduces noise,
  • The Not-So-Great: Trouble-shooting light connection can be challenging
Why it’s a Top Pick:

If you’re worried that a hitch step will obscure the back of your vehicle, or you just want boosted visibility on the back of your vehicle, adding a hitch with light-up capabilities can be an essential added feature.

This step offers a row of bright LED lights along the back of the step which won’t burn out and connect to your vehicle’s electric system through a simple three-prong plug.

It also fulfills the same functions as the other steps on the list, providing a convenient added step up and preventing bumper-to-bumper collision damage.

What Reviewers Say:

This is another popular mid-range choice among truck owners. It’s about 18 inches across, with the step measuring about 8 inches, making it also come in among the middle in terms of width. The round tube design isn’t that unique, but it gets the job done reliably.

Some people do report troubleshooting difficulties with the lighting mechanism over time, which makes sense as the wiring is the most fragile portion of the entire product. If anything damages the wiring, the lights may cease to work properly or connect to the brake light easily.

Features and Considerations:

This step includes an adapter to fit all standard hitches. The receiver is steel, while the bumper itself is stainless steel to prevent corrosion.

The rubber coating only covers the center of the step, which is a strange design as it makes the effective “step” area smaller, but the center of the step is still more than functional, and the added width does add some extra collision protection.

Runner-Up Light Included: APS iStep Universal Hitchstep

aps istep universal hitchstep
  • Capacity: 300 lbs. +
  • Material: Aluminum and rubber
  • The High Points: attractive design, comes in multiple widths, extra-wide step area, optional LED lights
  • The Not-So-Great: some quality control issues, can be hard to install
Why it’s a Top Pick:

This is a sleek, customizable option which offers a bigger step-up area than most of the other options on this list. It’s made of high-quality aluminum which is lighter than the steel used to make other bumpers.

It’s also sturdy and offers an optional LED attachment to light up the back bumper.

Depending on your needs, you can choose from one of several configurations which extend the length of the step along the entire bumper for added protection and step-up functionality, or choose a shorter option.

What Reviewers Say:

Reviewers report higher quality than expected for the price, and appreciate the sleek design and heavy-duty construction.

If your vehicle’s hitch has rounded corners, you might have to grind down the corners of this attachment to easily install it. If the sides of your hitch are straight, you shouldn’t run into difficulties.

Features and Considerations:

This step is rated up to 300 lbs. on the edges of the hitch, meaning that the weight capacity in the middle is actually significantly higher; this is among the sturdiest options on the list, and offers a wide step convenient for loading luggage or your fishing kayak onto the roof of your vehicle.

The minor construction quality issues are rare; for most people, this is a reliable, plug-and-play option.

Best for Heavy-Duty Use: Heninger 4045 HitchMate Extendable TruckStep

heninger 4045 hitchmate extendable truckstep
  • Capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Material: Steel
  • The High Points: Extendable up to two feet, fits multiple hitch sizes, works even when tailgate is down. Zinc plating resists corrosion, lifetime warranty
  • The Not-So-Great: Narrow step, can be a little too short when extended.
Why it’s a Top Pick:

This is one of the few options on this list that can still work when your tailgate is down. It feels solid and holds a ton of weight reliably without even moving. Its high weight capacity is more impressive since the step can even extend all the way from the truck bed up to two feet from the trunks.

It extends out from the rear of the vehicle, letting you use the step even when your tailgate is down – this makes it a great option for loading heavy items into the bed if you need a step up.

What Reviewers Say:

It can be confusing to install this step without instruction. There are multiple pin holes to use, which offer different options for how far you want it to extend from the rear of your vehicle. Once you figure it out, it’s easy to take on and off and to adjust the length of the bar from the vehicle.

The bright yellow paint adds a layer of waterproofing missing from some other options out there. It doesn’t necessarily look that cool, but does exactly what it’s supposed to, and feels super solid.

Features and Considerations:

Overall, this step is stable, high enough to avoid bottoming out while off roading, and highly customizable depending on your intended use.

It’s also a cost-effective alternative to other very heavy-duty, extendable options, which can easily run hundreds of dollars.

Best for the Budget: Juegoal Rear Bumper Protector

juegoal rear bumper protector
  • Capacity: 300 lbs.
  • Material: Plastic
  • The High Points: Inexpensive, yet highly functional. Lightweight.
  • The Not-So-Great: Plastic is less durable than metal. Some quality inconsistencies.
Why it’s a Top Pick:

This step is easily half or even a quarter the price of similar products, but it’s still easy to use feels surprisingly sturdy for the price and material.

Despite its hard plastic construction, it holds 300 pounds and feels remarkably stable and strong when standing on it.

What Reviewers Say:

Most reviews conclude that this bumper is impressive for its price. It’s wide enough for multiple people to stand on it, and is easy to use. It has a non-slip coating and is easy to install.

Though it’s significantly cheaper than other options, most people report that they can barely tell it’s made of plastic from any distance, and it has an attractive, unobtrusive design.

The company also has a surprisingly strong reputation for customer service. For example, after several reviews describing too-small drill holes, they changed their manufacturing process to have slightly larger holes for easier use, and this model is what is currently sold.

Features and Considerations:

Despite the quality of its design, this bumper is still made of plastic, which has some drawbacks.

It likely won’t hold up that well as crash protection or even in bumper-bumper parking scrapes, but it does provide at least some protection and works great as a bumper step-up.

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The Complete Trailer Hitch Step Bumpers Buyer’s Guide

Finding the Best Hitch Bumper: How We Ranked Our List

When ranking this list, we looked for options which would most cost-effectively meet a wide range of needs. While step bumpers are a simple piece of hardware, they are still tailored to specific needs.

What matters to you likely varies. For example, factors like…

  • How it looks on the vehicle – does it blend in?
  • How long will it last? How much weight does it need to hold?
  • How much are you willing to invest? Is longevity or price more important?
  • Will you use your step on a truck with the tailgate down?
  • Do you want something that will effectively prevent damage from tailgaters, rear-ending, or parking lot scrapes, or will you use it primarily as a step?

…can all affect which option will be the best fit for you. We considered these questions, and more, while making these rankings.

More specifically, we also looked at:

Versatility

We considered options based on how many vehicles they would fit and how customizable they are.

For example, all the options on this list work on 2” hitch receivers. Some of them also offer included adapters to fit other hitch sizes:

Hitch Step Hitch Adapter?
TGL Hitch Step No
Yes, 1 ¼” and 2”
Bully Stainless with LED Yes, 11/4” ad 2”
APS iStep No
Heninger 4045 No
Juegoal Rear Bumper No

Height and Length

The dimensions of your hitch step will factor into how you use it, particularly if you have a very high lifted truck or a car with low clearance that might scrape on the ground.

If you plan to use your step with a tailgate down or rear hatch open, it can also be helpful to look into options such as the Heninger 4045, which telescope out to work farther from the vehicle without needing to stay that far extended all the time.

Durability and Crash Protection

Bumpers can be a great tool to prevent vehicle damage in the case of a slight collision. The weight capacity advertised also offers a convenient proxy for durability in the case of another car colliding with the rear bumper.

Hitch Step Material Weight Capacity (lbs.)
TGL Hitch Step Steel 10,000
Steel Not provided
Bully Stainless with LED Steel 350
APS iStep Aluminum 300
Heninger 4045 Steel 500
Juegoal Rear Bumper Plastic 300

Value for Your Money

Hitch bumper steps typically aren’t that expensive, but there is a fairly wide range across material types. Up to a point, paying more does tend to give you higher quality and more effective bumper protection. However, we looked for options which maximize durability and value for your money.

Visibility

LED lights on the back of the bumper can boost your vehicle’s visibility and make it less likely that someone will accidentally tap the back of your car. If you want to include more lights, it’s possible to DIY a strip of lights along the back of any of these options, but for added convenience, go for one of the two LED-light enabled built-in options on this list.

Aesthetics

Hitch steps typically live on the back of your car and stay there constantly. Since it’s always going to be there, it may be worth it to you to look for something that appears high-quality and/or blends into the rest of your vehicle. We looked for options which looked good while working well and lasting a long time.

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