By Steve Garrett
Before she ever rolled into our garage, we knew that Project Swampcat was going to need some side steps. No one in my family is taller than 5'3", which makes getting into the Jeep tricky even at stock ride height. So, obviously a 3.5" lift with 37" tires would make our attempts to get in comical for all those present. My previous Jeep had some custom frame-welded step/sliders, but they were a low-quality shade-tree fabrication job and didn't hold up well over time. For the JL, I knew I needed and wanted an engineered solution.

True engineering isn't something you come across too often in the aftermarket offroad and 4x4 industry. Most companies use the 'trial and error' approach until they fab up a design that works, then do their best to replicate it as needed to fill orders. As a prior nuclear power plant operator in submarines, I have a deep respect and appreciation for a well engineered solution to a problem. So, when I needed a step that also performed excellently as a rock slider, I looked no further than Rock Slide Engineering.

I ordered a set almost as soon as they released the JL model, then eagerly awaited the production line to catch up with the influx of orders. When my steps arrived I was immediately impressed just by the packaging. A company that takes the time to design adequate packaging has obviously taken the time to design a solid product that is worth the effort.

The install was fairly straightforward (video linked below) and only required simple hand tools, but I would call it a moderate level install simply because of the electronics and the fact that you'll be messing with the body mounting bolts. Like many companies these days, RSE has started using electronic installation procedures. But where RSE stands out is in sharing their instructions through Dropbox, which allows end-user commenting to help crowdsource improvements and changes. This is just another sign that RSE is leading industry innovation.

After about 3 weeks, I noticed my steps weren't retracting fully anymore. Understanding though that new products always go through some growing pains, I contacted RSE and let them know what I was experiencing. After a couple of emails and a few pictures, they had shipped me a brand new set of steps under warranty, and even covered the freight shipping on my original set. I've been running the second set now for 10 months in all terrain types, and have had zero issues. You do have to lube the moving parts every so often, but all it takes is about 5 mins and a little WD-40.

In addition to performing much better than expected, the steps look factory and follow the factory body lines. Also, the electronics are either completely hidden or so subtle you don't even notice them. This gives Swampcat a clean and functional appearance that I love. I added the lighting kit a few weeks later, and it performs well while providing plenty of light to see the ground and step.

Overall, while they are expensive, these steps are worth every penny and are probably my favorite modification so far (and certainly the most useful). I have very high standards for product quality and functionality, and I'm happy to report that RSE exceeded my expectations. It's got the Swampcat stamp of approval, for whatever that's worth!