Jeep tops are fairly universal Jeep accessories in that everyone from casual Jeep owners to hardcore off road enthusiasts has some basic knowledge of what they’re about.
But Jeep tops can get more complicated that one might think, and while it’s hard to go wrong when making a purchase, having an intimate knowledge about them can go a long way in extending the benefits.
For this reason, we’ve dissected nearly every imaginable Jeep top to take an in-depth look at what makes them must-have Jeep accessories.
Which Jeep Top?
It’s an age old question; perhaps one that has been asked since the time of the dinosaurs. Not really, but choosing a Jeep top has always been a decision that requires a fair amount of thought.
At first glance, choosing a top seems pretty simple. The features are all plainly stated, pictures give you an idea of what to expect looks-wise, and your particular environmental situation further dictates which one you need.
But there are also many factors that aren’t taken into account when shopping for a Jeep top. Intangibles like installation and frame style are examples of lesser-known aspects, while things like road noise or insulation are factors that can only be experienced firsthand.
With this in mind, I’ll do my best to cover aspects that are typically unaccounted for.
Factory versus Aftermarket Jeep Tops
When it really comes down to it, there isn’t a huge discrepancy between what both factory and aftermarket tops have to offer.
A factory Jeep top will give you that genuine Jeep look and feel, plus the added security of sticking to true Jeep accessories that follow the same standard of quality as the vehicle itself. Aftermarket tops are for the most part similar to factory units, but with a few exceptions.
Although both versions of Jeep tops are made from the same materials, equivalent quality, and with the same purpose in mind, aftermarket tops offer certain features, benefits, or other Jeep accessories that you might not get out of factory units.
For instance, certain aftermarket tops have been optimized to reduce road noise better than a factory one. Also, in the event that your Jeep top needs replacing, aftermarket replacement options are typically cheaper than factory tops. For these reasons, aftermarket options usually make for favorable Jeep accessories when replacing aging factory tops.
Narrowing It Down
The first and most obvious way to categorize Jeep tops in terms of need is by splitting up hardtops and soft tops. Clearly, the two styles are distinctive enough that each one serves its purpose in different ways.
- Jeep Hardtops Hard-style Jeep tops are a never-fail option. They rarely if ever need replacing and provide enhancement and heavy duty protection. In addition, they offer a number of handy Jeep accessories, like power windows, a rear window defroster, and more. Hardtops come in a one-piece model, or a two-piece configuration with a removable sunroof. On the flipside, Jeep hardtops are not easily removed and stored for those who enjoy open-air summertime driving. Hardtop hoists and storage-based Jeep accessories are available, but require added purchases.
- Jeep Soft Tops For those who love customizability with their Jeep accessories, soft tops are the way to go. Available in a variety of designs, Jeep soft tops offer the kind of versatility, comfort, and style that justify a Jeep purchase in the first place. Plus soft tops are easy to install, remove, or store. On the other hand, soft Jeep tops aren’t exactly ideal for colder weather. Their thinner material and fabric construction leaves them with poor insulation, and also gives them an average lifespan of only 3 to 5 years before requiring replacement.
Upon Further Review…
On the other hand, soft Jeep tops aren’t exactly ideal for colder weather. Their thinner material and fabric construction leaves them with poor insulation, and also gives them an average lifespan of only 3 to 5 years before requiring replacement.
When it comes to hardtops, making a choice and meeting the requirements for installation is relatively easy, and getting the right Jeep top is usually a simple matter of picking either a one or two-piece top.
- Two-Piece Hardtops The two-piece hardtop is the definitive Jeep top for year-round performance in any climate. On one hand, you get the protection and insulation of a full-fledged hardtop during the winter. Then for warmer weather conditions, the cockpit features a removable roof piece for open-air driving. In addition, hardtop Jeep tops come with a vast assortment of unique features and Jeep accessories like a fiberglass-reinforced plastic composition for durability, an in-mold gel coating for fade resistance, rear window vents, a rear window defroster, tinted tempered glass windows, an overhead dome light, and much more.
- One-Piece Hardtops In addition, hardtop Jeep tops come with a vast assortment of unique features and Jeep accessories like a fiberglass-reinforced plastic composition for durability, an in-mold gel coating for fade resistance, rear window vents, a rear window defroster, tinted tempered glass windows, an overhead dome light, and much more.
Jeep Soft Tops
Soft tops are where matters can get a little confusing.
To start, it is necessary to determine whether or not you have a pre-existing frame, and whether it’s in usable condition. Remember that the frame is the backbone of your soft top, and therefore a worn, rusted, or misshapen frame can cause your Jeep top to install improperly, or perhaps not perform as expected.
If you do have a frame already in place, you next need to find out if it’s a factory or aftermarket frame. This will ultimately help you narrow down which aftermarket Jeep top options are available to you, since certain Jeep tops are only compatible with particular frame styles.
For those without a Jeep top frame altogether, an aftermarket Jeep top kit that includes both the Jeep top and hardware system to set it up is suggested.
Pre-Existing Factory Frame Jeep Tops
These Jeep tops are designed exclusively for use with Jeep vehicles that have a pre-existing factory frame in usable condition.
- Replace-A-Tops For a fast, efficient, and inexpensive soft Jeep top solution, Replace-A-Tops make updating your old, worn factory top simpler than ever. The Replace-A-Top is a basic Jeep top skin that easily slips on and off your factory frame. Each kit includes only the Jeep top fabric with optional clear or tinted windows, and the Jeep tops themselves are built to factory standards, or better. Additionally, the Replace-A-Top includes a host of other fine features, such as premium fabric construction, mildew and UV resistant material, industrial strength thread, heat sealed seams, and much more. Trusted Jeep tops manufacturers Bestop, Rugged Ridge, and Smittybilt each offer perfectly reliable and inexpensive Replace-A-Top models. Bestop also offers a premium option in their Replace-A-Top Jeep top made out of revolutionary Sailcloth fabric to help improve insulation and drastically reduce road noise over factory Jeep tops.
- Halftops For a sporty two-seater look and feel there’s nothing quite like a Halftop Jeep top. Combining components of several other styles, the Halftop is the perfect hybrid of unique style and rugged function. The Halftop includes all the usual soft top functions and Jeep accessories like mildew and UV resistant-fabric, a convenient fold back sunroof, zip-out windows, and much more, but then also incorporates all of this into an unconventional sporty look. The Halftop Jeep Top from Bestop is actually something of an exception when it comes to having the right hardware for installation. It can accommodate those who have a pre-existing factory hard or soft top frame, or for those who have no frame at all. Halftop Jeep tops are available exclusively from Bestop.
No Frame or Aftermarket Frame Jeep Tops
These Jeep tops are compatible with Jeeps that have either no soft top frame whatsoever, or a pre-existing aftermarket frame.
- Supertop You wouldn’t think from the sleek design and intuitive features that the Supertop Jeep top has followed mostly the same formula for decades. Sold as a complete package with all necessary mounting hardware and Jeep accessories to get your started, a Supertop is a simple yet dependable solution for adding a soft top to an open-top Jeep. Its “Set-N-Stretch” fabric won’t fade or warp regardless of temperature, and the zip-out replaceable windows come in clear or tinted. The Supertop also gives you a variety of other premium features like mildew and UV resistant fabric, industrial strength thread, heat sealed seams, heavy duty molded-tooth zippers for easy window installation and removal, and powder-coated rust-resistant frame hardware to ensure long frame life. Best of all, using the Supertop framework, you can easily change out your top skin for a bikini top, or remove it altogether for open-air driving. The Supertop Jeep top is available exclusively from Bestop, and is available in a complete kit with frame hardware or in replacement skins for those with an aftermarket frame already installed.
- Rollback Sunroof Tops These soft top Jeep tops follow the same basic formula of most other soft tops with the exception of a sleek and convenient rollback sunroof for a more open-air feel. These Jeep tops also include all the necessary hardware you need to do a complete installation from scratch, and the versatile design also allows for compatibility with a number of soft door options. Other features of Rollback Sunroof tops include mildew and UV resistant fabric, industrial strength thread, heat-sealed seams, heavy duty molded-tooth zippers for easy window installation and removal, and powder-coated rust-resistant frame hardware to ensure long frame life. Current rollback sunroof-style Jeep tops include the Bestop Sunrider and Pavement Ends Flip Top.
- Tiger Top Vintage and classic Jeep owners need not feel left out thanks to the Tiger Top. Designed and custom-crafted by Jeep tops leader Bestop, the Tiger Top Jeep top is built specifically for older model Jeeps, and even comes sporting that vintage Jeep look. The Bestop Tiger Top includes all necessary hardware for a full installation onto an open top Jeep.
Your Jeep Top Purchase
Choosing a top isn’t as complicated of an affair as one might suspect. In the end, Jeep tops are all about getting the style you want at an agreeable price.
Hopefully this article has helped you in that decision-making process in order to minimize the hassle of buying and installing the right one so you can focus on the fun part.
Now go get your Jeep top.