by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
Spring has sprung. Spring is in the air. Spring fever. Call it whatever spring cliché you want, but this time of year certainly gets the heart racing and energy flowing just a bit harder for Jeep owners everywhere.
And why not? With warmer temperatures, longer daytime hours and those chilly, wintry months now in the rear-view mirror, the change of seasons is not simply a rebirth of the outdoors, but it can be a rebirth of your Jeep as well.
Understandably, the current situation we’ve all been living under now for a few months has taken the, um, spring, out of our step. And many of the places, and events, we love going to are either closed or canceled.
Yet the Jeep hard or soft top still beckons to come off; enticing all of us to unlatch, unhook and untether the thing from its windshield moorings. Or, just perhaps, also enticing us to unlatch, unhook and untether ourselves from that shelter we’ve been surrounding ourselves with recently.
As you do, you may find your Jeep isn’t as ready for spring as you thought. Sure the top goes down, but maybe your friend or neighbor is also taking off their doors, and you love that look. You just aren't sure what to do with them when they are off.
Or possibly you’ve found your Jeep’s seats and floor didn’t survive the winter in great shape, and you are worried what a season of top-off driving will do to them. Perhaps, even, you want to find a safe way to store your top when it is off the vehicle because your buddy damaged his last year doing the same thing.
Whatever the issue, spring is a great time to take stock of your Jeep’s needs, and see just what is out there to amplify your fun weekday, or weekend, rides—all while giving you some peace of mind when that top, doors, or whatever, is off the vehicle.
So here are some top products that will help you spring wisely into the topless season.
When it comes time to remove that Jeep top, many owners also cast an eye on their doors as well. After all, what does an open cab really mean if it is not truly an open cab? Removing those Jeep doors, whether just driver and passenger or all four for Unlimited owners, can really provide a more exciting driving experience—one that can put you more in touch with how those Jeep drivers of old lived.
For some, though, driving with a totally open door enclosure can be a bit intimidating. Depending on your area, it may also be against the law. So it is always a good idea to check your state regulations before you take those door off.
Or, you can look into one of today’s hottest moving items; Jeep tubular doors. They are the perfect alternative for those who want to pull off their doors, but need something there.
Tubular doors provide just the right amount of air to material coverage, and many can latch right on to existing door hardware. Some can even be outfitted with canvas bags to help with cargo storage.
Keep in mind, though, when you do remove the factory doors, so go the mirrors. Some tubular doors either come with their own mirrors, or accept the factory mirrors which makes things easy, but if not, it is a good idea to invest in either some relocation brackets or other type of workable mirrors.
Not every spring day can be full of sun and fun. It is bound to rain at some point, and when it does then your seats could be in danger if the top is off your vehicle. Really, though, rain or shine those factory Jeep seats are under assault any time the top is off the vehicle.
So if you plan to take that Jeep top off, and leave it off for an extended time, then think about infusing your seats with some highly protective seat covers. Whether your choice is weather absorbing and comfortable neoprene, highly breathable polycotton, easy to clean ballistic nylon, vinyl or great looking and soft leatherette, these covers will allow your Jeep seats to last longer and give you a little more insulation for the ride. Not only that, but covers are also easy to remove and clean when needed. Perfect for your on-the-go topless Jeep lifestyle.
A final benefit to adding protective seat covers inside your Jeep's cab is the ability to customize to nearly any look you want. Most covers have numerous color schemes that can match, for example, accent bezels you have done to the dash area or paint job you've done to the vehicle’s body tub. Or, perhaps, even the respective colors of your Jeep club. It's all up to you. And the best part, it will look just the way you want each time that top comes off.
Lockable Interior Storage
Removing that Jeep top and doors, then cruising down the road with the music chirping and wind tickling your face. It makes for a great image, right? Well, all that open cab space is amazing when driving, but what happens when you park the vehicle at your destination and have to leave it for awhile—meaning where are you going to store those valuables that you just can’t take with you?
Let’s just say that nothing makes a great day of open air driving end faster than returning to your vehicle and stuff is missing.
A topless Jeep makes for a tempting target for would-be thieves. Especially ones who know there are not a ton of spots to store things inside the cab. Sure you have a lockable plastic glove compartment, or center console, but the flashing neon word there is plastic. Not much in the way for a thief to gain access and take your prized possessions.
So, that is why investing in high-quality lockable storage units simply makes sense for just about anyone planning on spending warmer months with the top off. We’re talking under seat metal locking units, replacement lockable center consoles, locking metal glove boxes, cargo security enclosures and even tailgate locking boxes. All things that will deter a potential thief from poking around too long.
Many of these applications are no drill installs that, once in place, can't be removed without a key, while others (like center storage consoles) may require drilling for proper installation. Regardless, the heavy gauge steel in these storage solutions can stand up to potential 'visitors' so you'll have peace of mind any time you are away from your topless Jeep.
Full Jeep Cover
The warm topless season may worry you when it comes to sudden rainstorms, or how to keep stuff like dust, pollen or tree leaves out of your Jeep. Well, one option is to put that top on whenever you aren’t driving, but that may not be practical or even something you want to do each time.
So a better solution is to invest in a full Jeep cover.
These simple to use weatherproof soft covers can be thrown over the Jeep and then secured down with straps or a cable kit. That way the cover won’t blow away or somehow get loose and cause cabin exposure. Just as simple is detachment in the morning; pluck off those straps and cables, remove the top, and you are topless again and ready to attack the day.
Best of all, these covers can be rolled up, placed inside a carry bag, and tossed into the back seat or cargo area so you can take it wherever you are going.
And, like we said, it’s not just rainstorms either that these covers protect against, but things like morning dew, dust, tree pollen, or even animals that find their way inside your cabin when the top is off.
The factory carpeting inside your Jeep is pretty competent at handling water should you ‘forget’ to cover the vehicle during a shower. Aftermarket versions are as well. They all can absorb water and dry out, and normally are mildew resistant. But just because your carpeting has those features doesn’t mean you should consistently see how well they work.
Like anything else, the more you expose that carpeting to moisture, the faster it shortens the product’s lifespan.
So to give your Jeep carpeting its best chance at long term survival—especially for all of you continually on the go—protective floor liners are an ideal solution.
Floor liners simply fit over the existing carpet in the driver and passenger foot area, and are also available for back passenger footwell coverage as well as cargo area protection. What that means is most exposed carpeting areas now will have a ‘shield’ designed to really keep just about anything off it; rain, snow, mud, dirt. Not to mention liners will also keep your feet from rubbing against the carpeting and prematurely wearing out the material.
Also, these days liners aren’t just some generic carpeted overlay that sits there and covers the factory carpeting. Most liners now are custom designed to exactly fit your specific vehicle, and are available in a multitude of materials like rubber, thermoplastic and high density tri-extruded—as well as carpeting—that all are able to trap and hold water or debris in place. Plus, they are simple to remove and clean when needed, which makes things so much easier than continually removing drain plugs to get water out of the vehicle. Or breaking out that scrub brush to attach muddy carpet stains.
Replacing a soft or hardtop with another top may seem counterproductive to the whole open cabin thing, but drive long enough without a top at all under a blazing sun, and you will realize a cab cover over your head can be very helpful.
Simple and quick to install, these top solutions sit right about your head while not obstructing the side or rear. This means it can also help reduce wind noise while still allowing an acceptable amount of airflow through the cabin.
Many cab cover tops attach with a channel to the windshield frame (similar to a full soft top) and then utilize hook and loop straps to wrap around several roll cage points. This keeps it secure and helps stop any flapping. Depending on the brand, you can even choose the type of material as some match the factory fabric, while others offer vinyl or mesh.
Additionally, there are also coverage options for just the driver and passenger, or longer versions that cover nearly the entire length of the vehicle—great for four-door owners who travel with extra passengers.
For those planning on keeping their normal soft or hardtop off all spring, summer and into the fall, these tops make up the first part of a system that also will enclose the cab with a second section called a cab curtain, as well as a third part that shuts off the cargo area titled deck cover.
When fully installed, these pieces give the vehicle almost a truck-like appearance with a walled off cab and bed. However, one thing to note on these—don’t expect much protection from the elements as they are not waterproof top solutions.
Jeep Top Storage
You know it. We know it. When the weather turns warmer, top off, open cabin driving is one of the best perks you get from owning a Jeep. However, when these tops and doors come off your vehicle, you really do need to find them a decent spot to call home. Somewhere safe and protective, and not just tossed into the garage or backyard like some neglected GI Joe action figure. By protecting that top and doors, you’ll definitely be able to seriously enjoy all those topless drives without worrying if those things are still in one piece.
Now, some may believe this advice only applies to hardtops owners, as nearly anyone with a soft top just reclines the thing down. But think about this—where do those soft top windows go? You know, the ones on the side and back.
You could toss them into the backseat or cargo area; maybe even the garage somewhere and hope they do not get all scratched up. Or you can invest in a solid storage bag that will protect soft window plastic as well as keeping those zipper tracks from losing teeth.
For the hardtop crowd, storage options are a bit more plentiful. If you do not have a family member, neighbor, or friend who can help remove the thing, you can hook up a hardtop hoist (power or regular) in your garage that will easily lift the top off your vehicle, and even store it until you are ready to mount it back on the Jeep.
Of course, having a buddy or two help lift the hardtop off your vehicle makes things easier. But again, if you are planning on just setting it in the garage or backyard, then you may want to think again before a window accidentally breaks or the top is gouged.
For the best non-hoist storage, hardtop carts have become extremely popular over the past few years. These movable carts securely hold both the top and panels, and include a base with wheels so the whole ensemble can pretty much go wherever you need when storing.
Additionally, when you remove the Jeep’s doors, don’t just place them on the ground somewhere (see the theme here) where they can fall over and become damaged. For those doors, a good set of wall storage pegs are a great way to get them off the ground and out of danger.
Finally, while most storage carts can keep the hardtop Freedom Panels secure, some may never want to remove the rear top section and, thus, have no real use for a cart. If this sounds like you, then canvas cover bags are definitely helpful to keep those Freedom Panels safe and scratch free.
All Jeeps come with mirrors, so why is this something on the spring topless products list? Well, the thing about Jeep mirrors is most are attached to the vehicle’s doors. So if (or when) you remove those doors on a really nice day, then you’ll most likely need an additional replacement mirror or two. That way, you won’t find yourself waiting on the side of the road for a cop to write you a ticket.
A good piece of advice is to first check with your state’s regulations regarding mirrors. Most states require at least two, which includes the rear-view mirror, but your area may vary.
Now, there are a few different styles that are perfect to use when the doors are off. Some are considered quick release, and slide into the upper door hinge opening and utilize a thumb screw, or other tightening mechanism, to help keep the mirror in place against the wind when driving. Other mirrors are hinge mounted and bolt to the driver and passenger windshield hinges. Some even come with their own mounting block that attaches to a factory screw location below the windshield frame.
Most of us have probably owned a vehicle in the past that had some type of handle above the front and and rear doors. You know what we mean. The thing you clutched passionately when the ride got bumpy, or the driver decided to whip around a turn at high speed. In a Jeep, though, with its roll cage between you and the top, well, that kind of handle really isn’t very feasible.
However, the vehicle’s roll cage actually offers a perfect place to mount an aftermarket handle to give not only a nice ‘hold on’ product when the top is down, but also something you can use to get in and out of the vehicle.
From simple nylon handles, to deluxe nylon versions with a foam grip, to heavy-duty Paracord, there are many affordable grab handle styles out there that all Velcro around the roll bar and provide smooth ‘grab-a-bility’ when the need arises. Many even have color options so you can match your Jeep color scheme, or simply find one that draws attention.
Most likely, you’ll never get tossed out of a topless Jeep when the ride gets rough, but it is nice to have something to hold. Plus, if you have a suspension-lifted vehicle, your passengers will thank you each time they have to climb inside.
You may have never piloted a motorcycle before, but that same sense of open air freedom arises every time you remove your Jeep top and doors, and cruise down the road. For motorcycle riders, well, they generally only have one place to put their feet—on a set of beefy foot pegs jutting from the cycle’s body.
Those driving a Jeep, of course, have the cabin’s foot well to rest their feet, and yet this can feel exceptionally weird when the top and doors are off, and that entire upper and side area are now open. We mean weird like you need to relax, stretch out and hang that left leg outside the door frame, motorcycle style.
Of course, no one is suggesting you just throw that leg out the door and let it fall where it may. That isn’t really comfortable. Or safe. However, installing a solid Jeep footrest on the vehicle solves that problem, while also providing the perfect compliment to open air driving.
Jeep footrests are generally steel or aluminum pieces that mimic those of their motorcycle companions. They hook into the vehicle’s lower door hinge and bolt into place to eliminate random movement or rattling. Some even include a rubber non-slip pad, or textured surface to make sure your foot stays comfortable, and in place, the entire ride.