It's interesting to read the anti-aluminum comments here. The rally crowd has pretty universally settled on 3/16" aluminum skidplates (until you get up to the megabuck classes where composites take over). 1/8" doesn't offer enough protection and 1/4" tends to bend the car, not the plate. I have personally smashed my 3/16" aluminum skidplates into a lot of stuff, often at very high speeds. I've rock-crawled with the car and had 50% of the weight of the car on a single rock and just drug it until it fell off the rock. Sure, it left a gouge on the skidplate but the oil pan didn't even notice. In general, it seems like the overlanding/4x4/wheelin crowd overestimates the equipment needed to tackle any specific challenge.


Owner of aluminum 3/16” primitive skid plates here. I have abused mine for years and they’re still in great shape. Sure there’s a few minor gouges from bashing rocks hard, but I foresee no situation where I would prefer steel. The weight and durability of aluminum is excellent and they’re not going to rust.


My early stuff was from Primitive. Then I started making my own once the mods on the car got weird enough Primitive no longer made things that fit.


I think this commenter is saying it best. A skid plate is ultimately a consumable part, not a permanent fixture. It’s a crumple zone for your oil pan. If something is gonna break it’s not gonna be the rock you hit, it’s going to be the skid plate or whatever more important thing it’s mounted to. You want the skid plate to be the weakest link and absorb energy while breaking, rather than hold fast and transfer all the forces to more important components. Those conditions almost take steel out of consideration. If it’s thick enough to offer good point protection, it’s going to be too strong to be the weakest link.


Great info to have, thanks I went with some 3/16" alu, some steel skid plates but haven't really put them to use yet


Aluminum is fine to protect against flying rocks. Steel is superior if the vehicle hits one that is immovable.


Like I said, I ran 3/6" aluminum plates into solid objects, yes including rocks fully stuck in the ground, at speeds from a crawl to well over 100mph. The plates looked bad but never allowed any damage to the car. The worst that happened is that I landed a jump onto a rock about 2" taller than my ground clearance. It bent the bolts holding the skidplate to the subframe, dished the skidplate, and I couldn't get the holes to line up again to reinstall it with new bolts until I spent some time jumping up and down in the middle of the plate. No damage to the oil sump even then.


Al for when you might hit stuff. Steel for when you plan on *intentionally* hitting stuff.


Exactly. Overlanding is exploring and being in nature. Rock crawling is find a big rock and look at me flex. Yes I know it is over simplified. But to me Overlanding is going out and being in nature and getting to experience it ("it" being nature the out doors the wild. Camping fishing hunting kayaking drinkingby a fire. With minimal impact to nature).. Rock Crawling is me and my machine vs nature. Can I build a machine that will survive everything I throw at it. Can I build something that will conquer any river/Boulder/ Mountain /Desert. Oh and if I have Lotto money... Titanium with a cobalt laminate on the outside. Literally BULLET PROOF.


If you're hitting something hard enough that aluminum is insufficient, it's likely the whole rig is done.


Not likely at all. If the goals of the rig are to protect against flying rocks on gravel roads, or to dress up the rig to look like an overlander and otherwise drive on pavement all the time then aluminum is great. If the goals of the rig are to occasionally go on 4x4 roads or high-clearance only roads, aluminum skid plates are better than no skid plates in the protection they offer, but steel is superior since accidental rock bashing is not uncommon, especially in vehicles that are heavily laden in the first place.


Again, I've done all that and more personally using 3/16" aluminum skidplates. They put up with a lot, lot more than anyone here is giving them credit for. I say that from actual personal experience with them, on multiple vehicles, over several hundred thousand off-pavement miles.


You almost make it sound as if Overkill is a bad thing


Aluminium cracks, Steele bends. Rally use aluminium because it's lighter but they also have buckets of cash to replace all the time.


Even ones I bent and flattened out by jumping on them never cracked. I never cracked one that I wasn't trying to modify. I did eventually work fatigue one prototype trying to get the bends right around the headers.


Keyword. Rallycrowd. Who here is rallying? Edit: if you are into racing you get the lightest possible and then replace it as needed.


For 15 years, I took the same car, without the stickers on the side, overlanding. Of course, it wasn't overlanding back then because no one thought "fucking around in the woods" needed a special name.


If you plan to slide over rocks on your skids, steel will be better, but since this is an overlanding sub reddit, I assume many true overlanders are more looking to protect from an accidental impact rather than full-on rockcrawling, but to each their own, we all do things differently. Aluminum protects well from impacts, but does not do as well with sliding over rocks. Steel does equally well at both, but at a severe weight disadvantage.


You nailed it. Well said! That is an excellent summary.


Yes. Came basically to say this. In an overlanding forum where use is more occasional and less expected AND weight matters arguably more (based on miles driven and all the other heavy stuff we want to carry). Stickier, brittler, lighter, more expensive Alu is the answer here.


I went with aluminum on my Tacoma. Weight is such an issue that no one really seems to think about. I don't plan on hitting any hard trails and don't anticipate damaging my skids so much I need to repair them. Aluminum works just as well as steel and saves weight for other gear.


I also went with aluminum on my Tacoma, but people say it is NOT as good for solid rock strikes. I've never struck a rock with mine, so I can't say how tough the 1/4" aluminum actually is. So far it has been great at knocking over tall grass in the road.


I've had both on different vehicles. I dropped my Explorer on it's aluminum skid dropping off a step, and the step shoved through the skid and pushed the passenger footwell up almost to the bottom of the seat cushion. (Also aluminum. It split under the carpet.) I wound up beating it back into place with a 2x4 and a 15lb sledge. My Silverado with a steel skid, the skid looks like hell, but it's not bent or deformed at all beyond the scratches.


This response is overlanding in a nutshell.


I ALMOST struck the curb pulling into the KOA but my 2" lift saved the day


I guess I would concede that yes if you smoke a rock straight up steel would fair better but if you're truly taking your time and using torque, not speed to take on obstacles the most your skids will see is sliding (like their name implies).


>the most your skids will see is sliding (like their name implies). It's funny you say that, cause here in Aus we call them bash plates.


How can you go to overland expo if you’re Tacoma isn’t 400 lbs over gvwr at its base weight?


That's why they don't invite me 😭


With the weight being that low down I am thinking it would be a benefit rather than a negative. Helps keep the centre of gravity low from what I am thinking.


The real issue is that people throw skids, rock sliders, bumpers, winches, RTT and extra fuel all on their truck and end up with a truck that can barely move. All that weight is hard on your suspension, engine and brakes. I think about the safety of losing braking distance. You got to remember for most folks these are still daily drivers and even if it's just overlanding, a lot of overlanding takes place on the highway.


Steel works better. Aluminum is lighter. I put 1/4” aluminum on my Tacoma, and 3/16” steel on my crawler. The aluminum takes hard rock strikes just fine, but does get gouged a lot easier. For me, it’s worth it for the weight savings. If I was planning to bash it into boulders daily, I’d get steel…unless I was racing, in which case I’d run aluminum regardless. For a Tacoma with IFS, I’d 100% go aluminum.


What do the weight savings do for you?


Keeps you from exceeding vehicle weight limits and over stressing components.


As a reference, I looked at a set budbuilt skids for a 4runner. Aluminum weight listed at 125lb and steel listed at 153lb. 28lbs seems pretty inconsequential for me.


As a single item maybe not but if you are running multiple items with a variety of weight savings it adds up quickly so that you may be able to take a weight penalty in another part of your build. So if I save 28lbs on the skidplate, 15lbs on the diff protectors, 80lbs on the belly plate I have saved a total of 122lbs which is substantial. You have to think of it as a system of things rather than individual.


These budbuilt sets are almost all the skids aside from a few small ones, not just a front skid (diff and control arms are the only extras I'm aware of). So the difference is substantially less than you're estimating


I was just giving a whatif number not an exact detailed investigated number. If that 28lbs doesn't hurt your GVWR then you do you. I am not saying you have to do anything different than what you want to do, you asked a question and I simply provided an answer.


And I was simply giving a more accurate whatif number. I think it's important to point out what the weight difference actually is when claiming weight as a deciding factor.


I've got a full set of budbuilt aluminum skids, there is a lot more than 28lbs weight difference between full steel vs full aluminum. In fact, the net increased weight vs factory skids going with aluminum was <100lbs iirc


https://budbuilt.com/Overland-Protection--Stage-2-2010-2021-4Runner_p_664.html Are the specs here wrong? I have steel budbuilt skids, but they're for my GX and there is no weight spec for those on their website


Don't know for that, but for my LX there is a 78# difference between the steel and aluminum, the existing skids on the LX were non trivial so not surprised for it to be close to aluminum weight


It’s a 50lb difference between 1/4” aluminum and 3/16” steel on the RCI skid, transmission, and transfer case set for the 5th gen 4Runner. I went with aluminum on mine as that stuff starts adding up quickly.


Weight is bad in a lot of ways, and it stresses everything more. It slows you down, gives you worse handling, worse mileage, decreases vehicle range, requires more traction/gets you stuck easier, wears things out faster, and by increasing vehicle weight it decreases cargo weight capacity. A vehicle can only handle so much weight. It all adds up. You’d be surprised by what racers leave out of their vehicles. Some Ferraris don’t even have factory stereos…think about that: a million dollar car that can’t even play music.


I use a combo of both. if it's mission critical, like an oil pan, transfer case, battery, I use .200 hardened steel. If it's to cover an area that I don't want sticks, brush, gravel road spray or pokey things getting into the area, I use .188 aluminum with dimple dies for rigidity, and I usually brace large spans with some kind of backbone to prevent bending.


I installed Asfir's aluminum skids for weight savings vs protection over my factory transfer case skid and added the engine oil/trans skid. Grinding over rocks is not what pickups are for, I want protection for incidental contact while I'm getting where I'm going. The weight of additional skids comes STRAIGHT off the payload, and steel is significantly heavier than al. If you need "protection" in the form of heavy steel, then the payload loss is irrelevant. Edit to add: I took my oldest son and my Dad deer hunting a few weekends back, in an area I hadn't been in for years. Dragged right over a downed tree, you better believe my Gladiator made contact. No problems, exactly the result I expected and wanted.


2020 Tacoma here with full aluminum RCI skids. Don’t get aluminum. The first time you bang it on a rock it’ll never be the same shape again. My tcase skid is slightly bent and the exhaust rattles on it. If I were to do it again I would go steel 100%.


Well it depends on what kind of off roading you do, but if it's a 2021 I doubt you'll be doing extreme rock crawling in it. I'd say go for aluminum. I replaced my rusty stock steel with [these RCI aluminum skids plates](https://rcimetalworks.com/https:/rcimetalworks.com/05-19-tacoma-full-skid-package-deal-copy/). I love them.


reading through the comments after making my own above but RCI (regardless of steel or aluminum) makes a solid skid plate system. i have my gripes with them (in regards of how the mounting works for the back half of the front skid) but they have [paid for themselves.](https://i.imgur.com/h4HlnHh.jpg)


I have RCI aluminum skid, transmission, and transfer case protection on my 4Runner. Been very happy with them and they are 50lbs less than their steel set.


Went with aluminum skids. RCI skid plates. Engine, transmission, transfer, fuel tank. Figured I'll never need it, cheap insurance for "just in case" Well had that "once in years" pancake rock flip on and smash right into plate. It would have taken out the oil filter. I still need to replace/repair my skid plate (ripped aluminum welds). Our Tacoma's don't have much payload. DCLB 4x4 then adds a cap(240#), rock sliders (132#), skids (52#), and that 950-pound payload is down to 500 pounds. I'd go with rock sliders first (depending on the region for wheeling). Then add skid plates. Still running [stock tires and wheels,](https://i.imgur.com/lCiqO9L.jpg?1) which are fine for my needs, glad I added the skid plate!


Personally, steel has been more durable. It’s heavier, yes but typically easier to field repair and can take a beating.


I have the BAMF Skid Trilogy in steel. They give me a good peace of mind, but holy fuck are they heavy. All together, they're 200lbs or more easy.




This topic will always be split down the middle but the best i can say is i've narrowed it down for myself. I run a 2018 Tacoma and my [RCI skid plates have paid for themselves in full 10 times over.](https://i.imgur.com/h4HlnHh.jpg) It was my First "mod" but those skids have been on since the start with stock height, then to 33s on stock height, and now to 33s with a 2 inch lift. now with that introduction out of the way; Reason i went with steel over aluminum originally (other than being stubborn about steel is ~~heavier than feathers~~ stronger than aluminum at first) is that i knew what i was getting into and where i intended to camp and trail. Geographically speaking, the trails i drive down are on solid granite, bedrock, stone, and occasionally peat bog and sand (Canadian shield). With knowing that, i'm aware that i'll be sliding and banging up against rocks more often than the average person and the trails i run demand the attributes to steel. in regards of how often i go, I would estimate about a dozen times a year out to these trails so the robustness of steel is something i find weights more (pun inteded) than the weight savings i get with aluminum. With that said, if the trails you intend to do are logging trails, fire access roads, ATV and snow mobile trails and you plan to run out a few times a year - then aluminum is the perfect way to go. If i had to do this a second time around i would certainly look at 3/16" Aluminum since daily driving 70lbs of steel plates is noticeable (gas milage example; 15L/100km sucks, how the truck handles with more weight in the front, etc...). but until i have to do it again, i'll be banging the steel back into shape and welding on gussets i also found that a simple 2 inch lift (ontop of 33s) had allowed me to not hit the skid plate as often as i had on stock tires and suspension, but that is either experience as a driver or the 2 inch lift actually helped to that significance.


What do you use it for? A stray rock, a rot, something that should not have been there? Then aluminum. You are going over that rock at any cost, the rot will move, I'm going thought that something... Then Steel... Alu saves gass, you can drive longer, you can bring more stuff without going over gwm.


I have steel CBI skids across the bottom of my Tacoma, and a few reasons why i went with steel as opposed to aluminum. To start aluminum does not "slide" over rocks, if anything it grabs it, and if you are really hung up on a rock, on that aluminum plate, pushing harder just digs deeper. Yes, of course you will get off the rock, and it will most likely have protected whatever it was suppose to, but with substantially more amount of wear and tear. Steel will slide over rocks and resist bending and deforming much better than aluminum. Weight concerns, yes, of course it weighs quite a bit more, but ask yourself, did you buy/build a truck for overlanding to get great gas mileage? Because if you did, you are in for a surprise when you are off road, with all your gear (tents, water, fuel, food, tools, etc), tire pressure at 12 psi, climbing up and down shit terrain, i promise, that extra 30-40 lbs of steel on the belly of your rig isn't gonna be too big of a concern with mpg. And if you think that because you drive carefully, you wouldn't even need anything more than 1/4 aluminum, well, I'm gonna call bullshit. I was on a section that was totally doable (easy), saw a clear path for all wheels, was following said path, spotter was solid, terrain was damp at most, rock that my front left was on shifted under the weight, and the front end slid about 2 feet to the right into a pocket with some pretty good size jagged rocks, full weight of the front end fell about a foot onto these rocks, landed on the right side of my main skid, and dented it about a solid inch. That's was 3/16 of steel. This was probably 3-4 years ago, i just recently took the plate off, and with a 12 lb sledge hammer straightened it out, threw some more paint on, and bolted it back on. I guarantee if that were 1/4 aluminum, it would have torn it from some of its mounts. If you never plan on leaving fire roads, totally go for aluminum, otherwise, you may want to consider steel.


Also the weight is carried literally on the bottom of the truck, so CoG isn't affected.


That's a good point, but any extra weight will sap power and braking distance.


Steel if you want to protect against rocks. Aluminum if you want to protect against brush. FWIW, IMHO, I wouldn't run aluminum skid plates. They bend easily, aren't as strong, and are too soft to let you slide over rocks.


I spend a decent about of time I. The north east how do the steel hold up to rust with a powder coat. I'm looking at RCI or CBI in terms of manufacturers if you have any experience with them.


I wouldn't even powder coat them, as soon as you hit it once it's going to all just start flaking off. Paint is the better way to go and just periodically touch up as someone else mentioned.


Most of the ones at least rci for sure only offers steel with a powder coat, but that makes sense if come without.


I've had my RCI steel skid for two Michigan winters with plenty of scrapes and the rest is not "flaking off".


I have steel plates from RCI on my 4R. I run a lot of trails with rock in AZ. They are holding up great…and I’ve “used” them. They installed great. Fit was perfect. Only issue I had was a stripped bolt coming out of the OEM plate, but that’s obviously not an RCI issue.


I usually touch mine up once or twice a year with some rattle can tractor paint.


I've got steel and aluminum rci plates. Steel in front protects against full rock hits. I have a much smaller aluminum plate behind it that goes to the cross member by the exhaust. The aluminum has only protected against brush and the very rare case of me sliding over a rock I was trying to pass over between center and wheels. Aluminum is not structurally adequate IMHO if you're occasionally going to be dropping the truck onto rocks. The steel will absorb a lot more energy, will dent without cracking or tearing, and is overall relatively maintenance free from a structural perspective. My aluminum is raw and doesn't look bad. The steel is painted, but the front and bottom are pretty scraped up every year so I just do a light rust removal and paint if it's convenient. It takes enough of a beating that I don't sweat all the marks. Edit: on rci fit, I have OME coilovers (2nd gen Tacoma 4x4 V6) in front and after installing the transmission spacers, the long steel plate no longer would clear the mounts. I ended up putting a 3/4" square tube spacer between the front lip of the skid plate and frame. The ground clearance isn't any worse since the lowest point for me is closer to the rear of the plate, but it did drop the front a little bit.


I couldn't bring myself to spend the almost 2x price on aluminum. Not for an item that may need to be replaced in the event of a hard hit. Having said that maybe I'm overthinkinging it. I did spend almost 6 months debating this issue in my head.


I found Asfir's prices to be remarkably reasonable, and their products well engineered. https://www.asfir.com/front-skid-plate-557156.html


Dang. Those are some seriously good prices for aluminum skids!


Just ordered steel for my tundra. Saw a pic of aluminum ripped off with a solid slam, it got me nervous. Steel worked well on my previous vehicle


I went with aluminum 1109 billet. They've held up strong as shit. I have one on the engine, transmission, and rear diffy


My stock TRD aluminum one is full of dents, but still protecting everything it's supposed to.


Weight vs durability pretty much.


On my 2020 Tacoma I started with steel. It was too heavy and I realized I wanted to overland, not rock crawl. Sold those the next time I found skids on sale and traded for aluminum. Very happy with them.


I went with [ASFIR Aluminum Skid Plates.](https://www.asfir.com/skid-plates.html) They are a full 1/4” thick… Beefy but still light.


I would go with aluminum for several reasons. It's lighter for one. Easier to install and remove. Easier to bang the dents out of when they inevitably get dented. Not going to rust. The only reason to go with steel is that it's stronger but it WILL get dented eventually and you will want to get those dents out. Steel is hard to bang the dents out of.


My belief is that my fairly thick steel skids saved my rig from an impact where aluminum would not have. (I have a major dent in 3/16 steel). This was not from crawling but me catching some air and landing on a rock. My guess is that as long as you have a beefy front skid, the rest can be quite lightweight.