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One of the great things about Jeeps is how you can easily swap out the factory-fitted top for a soft top of your choice. This presents you the opportunity to truly personalize your Jeep with a soft top of the type, pattern, and color you choose.
The different types of Jeep soft tops available are designed to suit different environments and activities. You’ll want a different soft top for off-roading in Nevada in summer compared to road driving in Washington State in winter. The soft top that you choose will reflect where you live and what you want to do with your Jeep.
Fully-enclosed Jeep Soft Top
If you live in an area with occasional extreme weather conditions, you will benefit most from a soft top that fully encloses your Jeep. With a full soft top, your Jeep’s air-conditioning will be able to cool your Jeep interior in summer’s midday heat, and your Jeep’s heating will be capable of warming your interior when there’s a blizzard outside.
A well-designed soft top from a reputable manufacturer provides as much protection from the weather as a factory-fitted hard top.
Heat-sealed seams in the fabric and snug attachment to your Jeep’s body ensure your Jeep remains waterproof. Thick and heavy fabrics provide insulation to keep the heat outside in summer and inside in winter.
Additionally, a fully enclosed soft top is more secure than other soft top types. They are often made using durable fabrics like heavyweight twill and black diamond sailcloth and have no gaps through which a thief can easily reach to steal your gear. Typically, tinted windows protect you from the bright sun in summer and snow glare in winter.
Some full tops come with additional features, such as document pouches in the roof where you can keep items like your driver’s license or guidebook when traveling.
Flip Soft Top
A flip top turns your Jeep into a convertible. It is a roof that can be instantly pulled over your Jeep interior when it begins to rain and easily folded away when it turns sunny again. The flip top is a variation on the full top.
The most expensive fully enclosed tops can often be configured in many ways. They can be opened to the sunlight in the front, functioning like a sunroof. They can be transformed into a bikini soft top by folding down the back. They can also become a safari soft top by removing the rear and side panels.
Bikini soft top
When the weather is generally fine, but you want to sit in the shade, you need a bikini soft top, sometimes called a brief soft top. Bikini tops only provide a roof over the driver and front passenger, which exposes the rear of the Jeep’s interior to the elements.
If you are going for this type of seat cover and live in an area where it frequently rains, you must ensure that your Jeep’s seats have waterproof covers. It’s also a good idea to use Jeep seat covers made from fabrics resistant to fading in sunlight.
When using a bikini soft top on your Jeep, you can get wind and dust blown in from the back. To prevent this, you can fit a windjammer. This is a fabric wall that hangs between the cargo area and the front seats.
You can also provide protection for your cargo area by fitting a duster top. Duster tops are a fabric cover that not only protects cargo from the elements but also keeps your cargo area looking tidy.
Safari soft top
The safari soft top, sometimes called a full bikini, is a popular option for off-roading in summer.
A safari top covers both the front and rear seats, providing shade for your rear-seat passengers. However, it does not enclose the sides or rear of your Jeep, allowing the breeze to blow through your Jeep.
When using a bikini or safari soft top, your Jeep’s interior is exposed to the elements. If you’re not keeping it inside a garage, this can lead to corrosion and other problems.
These issues can be prevented by investing in a custom-fit cover to weatherproof your Jeep. A cover provides better protection against extreme weather when you leave your Jeep parked outside. It is also easy to fold up and store away when you don’t need it.
Jeep Soft Top Construction Techniques
Some Jeep soft tops incorporate a frame while others are frameless. Framed Jeep soft tops are more rigid and minimize road noise.
Frameless soft tops are more affordable, easier to install, and easier to fold up and store. However, they flap while you’re driving creating a distracting noise.
Jeep soft tops can be constructed from a range of different materials. Two common fabrics are sailcloth and twill. Sailcloth is the more affordable option, durable, and offers high UV resistance. Twill is more expensive and made from a neoprene and acrylic core backed by vinyl.
One of the best things about replacement Jeep soft tops is that you can choose from a wide range of colors and patterns. This enables you to express your personality through the way you customize your Jeep.
How do you choose a soft top for your Jeep?
When selecting a soft top, the first step is to decide what you want to do with your Jeep. If you plan to drive across Alaska in winter, a bikini top isn’t for you! Choose a type that provides the protection you need for where you are headed and what you plan to do there.
Once you’ve decided what type of soft top you want, ensure that the Jeep soft tops you consider are compatible with your Jeep’s model and year. Subtle changes in design can lead to gaps between your Jeep’s body and the soft top or a soft top that won’t fit at all.
If you also want to use a Jeep roof rack, you must ensure that it is compatible with the soft top you have chosen. There are several good-quality Jeep roof racks that use mounting systems compatible with soft tops.
Finally, weigh up your options. Ensure that you buy the best quality soft top you can afford on your budget. Fortunately, Jeep soft tops are a popular product, so you will find plenty to choose from.