So you want to go topless…
One of our favorite features on the Wrangler is the ability to take the top off. The sun on your face, the wind in your hair, and nothing above you but open sky; there’s nothing better. We love taking the top off so much, we even started an annual celebration over 7 years ago – Go Topless Day! What’s that, you say? You only have a hardtop? Your freedom panels aren’t giving you the open air ride you desire? We understand, and believe us when we say, topless Jeeps have more fun! Here we'll explore the different options available for your first summer or soft top.
Soft Top Style - the Best of Both Worlds
A complete soft top kit is the best choice for Jeepers who want the topless ride and 100% waterproof protection. Complete soft tops come in two styles – full frame and frameless. Both full frame and frameless complete soft tops will include everything you need to switch to a soft top setup, including the door surrounds, tailgate bar, windshield channel, soft top, windows, and any other hardware necessary for installation. Read on to find out the difference between the two styles of complete soft top.
Full frame soft tops are most similar to the factory soft tops and feature metal bows to support the top’s fabric, removable side and rear windows, and a sunroof on certain models. The advantage to a framed top is that the bows stay attached to the roll bars at all times. This means that you can easily undo the top from the windshield and flip it all the way back for the topless experience. The bows lay flat along the sides of the cargo area while the fabric of the top folds behind the rear seat. If the clouds roll in, it’s just as simple to pull the top back up and reattach it. Even with windows, it takes less than 5 minutes to fold down or put up a fully framed soft top once you've gotten the routine down. The versatility and weather protection offered by a complete framed soft top is unbeatable.
The other option for a complete soft top kit is a frameless soft top. As the name implies, these tops do not use a metal bow system to support the fabric, but rather your Wrangler’s roll bars. This means that the top will follow the contours of your roll bars in the cargo area. For 4 door Wranglers, this does lead to a slight decrease in overhead cargo space when the rear windows are installed. This decrease in overhead cargo space is not as noticable on the 2 door models. On frameless tops that feature removable side and rear windows (hint, some models only have a removable rear window), the style is extremely similar to that classic bikini top look. At the same time, complete frameless soft top kits will include door surrounds, which allow you to seal the top to the Jeep and keep water from coming into the passenger area. When the windows are installed, a frameless soft top will be 100% waterproof. The disadvantage to a frameless top is that it does not have the capability to fold all the way back as a full framed soft top does. Some models have a sunroof feature so that the top can flip or roll back over the front driver and passenger seats. For many owners, having the sunroof back and the rear windows removed creates enough of an open air ride, while other owners find this set up doesn’t feel truly topless as the rear seats are covered. A frameless soft top does have to be completely uninstalled from the Jeep in order to go fully topless, and there is no built in storage mechanism as with the framed soft tops.
Bikini top, safari top, brief top, Bimini top, combo top, island top – whatever you call it, the summer top is a staple of Wrangler culture. Summer tops are the closest you can come to riding topless while still having a bit of weather protection overhead. All summer tops require a windshield channel in order to attach to the windshield area of the Jeep and use straps to attach to your roll bars. They come in a variety of styles, including brief, which covers only the two front seats, or extended, which covers front and rear seats. Summer tops are available in mesh and solid fabrics of varying colors. While a summer top will keep precipitation from coming straight down into the Jeep, they do not seal to the Jeep the way that a full soft top does, and as such, are not waterproof. Certain models have the plastic belt rail built into the sides of the top so that they can seal with factory door surrounds, but this varies widely by manufacturer and year.
The best friend of a Jeep owner that loves that bikini style look, but doesn’t want wet seats is a Cab Cover. These covers can be thrown on over the summer top when a storm rolls in to keep your interior dry. Be forewarned though, if the clouds let loose while you’re on the move, there’s not much you can do.
The Spiderweb Shadetop is a mesh top which attaches to your Wrangler’s roll bars using Spiderballs – bungee and ball cords that slip through the grommet holes on the top for easy installation. This is a truly ingenious product that can be configured in a variety of ways. The Shadetop is unique among summer tops in that it can be used tandem with other bikini tops, soft tops, and hard tops. Another bonus, no windshield channel required! Once the Shadetop is installed, you won’t have to remove it to use your other tops. While the mesh material won’t provide much in the way of water protection, it will cut down on wind noise and buffeting while driving, as well as keep you from roasting at red lights on those hot and sunny days. The brief-style JKini is a great option for those looking for a bit of protection while their freedom panels are out of the hardtop – birds overhead, anyone? Shadetops come in multiple lengths, colors, and pieces to outfit your Wrangler with complete sun protection.
Soft Top Accessories
Along with a new soft top comes a whole realm of care and storage accessories. We highly recommend the Bestop Soft Top Cleaner & Protectant Package along with the Bestop Soft Top Zipper Cleaner & Lubricant. These products are specially formulated to keep your top looking great and functioning smoothly for years to come.
Storage boots allow the folded back fabric of your top to be stored compactly in the cargo area of your Jeep. They also protect the top from precipitation, bird droppings, and anything else that may come your way with your top folded back.
There’s a few varieties of window storage for those removable soft top windows. For those that like to leave their windows at home, a protective storage bag is a practical solution. Prefer to take your windows with you? Check out the Cloverpatch Window Roll. This window storage solution uses layers of felt fabric to keep the windows from rubbing against one another. The felt liner, with windows inside, rolls up and slips into the outer storage sleeve, which uses straps to attach to your roll bars in the cargo area.
For those who choose the summer top route, a Car Cover or Cab Cover can save you from wet seats while your Wrangler is parked. The covers come in water resistant and waterproof options, depending on how you intend to use the cover. Remember, never seal a Jeep with an already wet interior with a waterproof cover!
Which Top Do I Choose?
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong top set up for your Wrangler. The choice will come down to your level of comfort, how much weather protection you desire, and which features you value most. As always, please call us at 877-249-0065 or email [email protected] and we will be happy to answer any top questions you may have!
Is it really okay for my Wrangler's interior to get wet? Click here to read our post on Going Topless 101!