Jeep Tops and Security: Hardtop or Soft Top?

When it comes to buying any vehicle, you are going to be presented with a lot of design choices, including safety features and luxury options. Despite the five-to-six hours of your life you’ll spend waiting around in the dealership to negotiate and close the deal, choosing between the features you want and what is being presented to you is going to be one of the toughest decisions you’ll make during the entire process of purchasing the vehicle.

This is no different with Jeeps.

Except you’ll also need to choose between what type of top to purchase: hard or soft. Both the Jeep’s hard and soft top options come with pros and cons, and in order to make an informed decision knowing the safety aspects of both is a must. In this post, we are going to take a look at the pros and cons of both hard and soft tops for Jeep Wranglers.

Advantages of the Soft Top: Allows You to Get Back to Nature and Save Money

  • If versatility is what you are looking for in your Jeep Wrangler, then the soft top is what you will want. These are easily removable due to their lightweight design, are foldable, so they can be stored right in your Jeep Wrangler.  Also, if you get hit with a sudden storm while out on the trails, just roll the soft top up and quickly enjoy the protection it provides. 
  • Beyond this, there are a ton of soft top styles to choose from including full tops, half tops, and flip top. Plus, you can combine these with mesh, twill, or black shades and remove the side and back windows. The combinations and customization options are nearly endless, which allow you to make your Jeep fit your life.
  • Soft tops come with a huge cost savings. You can buy several different styles for the price of a single hardtop, which means you can throw the extra money into new tires, new safety features, or new off-road mods.
  • If enjoying the great outdoors means not being confined in a box, then the soft top is perfect for getting in touch with nature. Just throw back the soft top and enjoy the smell of the woods, the crisp air of the mountains, or the ocean’s breeze.
  • Extra advantage: soft tops are iconic and make for the best Jeep Hair, Don’t Care selfies. You know it’s true!

The Negatives to the Soft-Top: Makes for a Loud Jeep and Less Protection

  • Soft tops do not come with the durability of hardtops and so will wear out more often and thus will need to be replaced more often.
  • Although soft tops are more flexible, they have less insulation as a result. This means that road noise is significantly louder.
  • They do not offer as much protection from the elements or thieves. There are several aftermarket products that can help you to address the lack of security. These include, but are not limited to:

**Some favorite soft tops are the Mopar Sunrider Design and the aftermarket Bestop Trektop NX Soft Top with Tinted Side and Rear Windows. The ‘Twill’ fabric is better quality and more durable than the ‘Black Diamond,’ and might be worth the extra dollars.

Advantages of Hardtops: You Are Protected, Secure, and Have a Quiet Space

  • You are going to get better protection, hands-down. Although the Freedom Panels are notorious for their mystery leaks, this means you’ll have better protection from the elements including wind, rain, and snow. It also means you’ll also have better protection from thieves as the hardtop better seals your Jeep than a soft top ever could.
  • A hardtop has an insane amount of durability compared to the soft top. If you treat it right, it can last the entire lifecycle of the vehicle.
  • You can increase how much storage space you have in and on your Jeep by anchoring half racks or full racks to the hard top. This will allow you to carry more of what’s important to you including bikes, kayaks, canoes, and even tents!
  • If you are traveling long distances, the hard top is going to offer you a much quieter ride even with those big knobby lugs on your tires.

The Negatives to Hard Tops: Expensive to Replace and Difficult to Remove

  • In the event that you have to replace your hard top, it will be expensive.
  • To remove the hard top, you will need at least two people (unless you have a ceiling mounted hoist system) and putting it back on is always more difficult than taking it off. This might deter you from taking it off on those sunny days.
  • If you do take the hard top off, you need a big enough storage space for it. These things are quite large and they don’t fold down.

**Some featured hard tops are the Smittybilt Hardtop Black Textured and the DV8 Off-Road Hard Top One Piece.

If you are truly having a hard time deciding on which type of top to go with, getting a soft top for the warmer seasonal months and a hard top for the cold, winter months, often works best (if your piggy bank allows). Jeep does provide the option to get the dual top, which includes both the hard and soft top. Just remember, you’ll need to have a good storage space for your hard top during the warmer months.

HerJeepLife’s Trail Etiquette Basics for Off-Roading

When it comes to off-roading escapades in your Jeep, it’s easy to envision yourself behind the wheel, blazing down the trails with your hair blowing in the wind. It’s a well-known fact that conquering insurmountable obstacles and plowing through swamp-like terrain and mud holes is the fastest way to a dirty Jeep girl’s heart, after all.

Although this may be a fairly common notion of what off-roading adventures are all about, the reality is often quite a bit tamer with slower, more respectful, and enjoyable journeys through lush natural landscapes.

If you are thinking about heading out on an organized trail ride, exploring off-the-beaten-path routes with friends, or are wanting to take your newly modified Jeep out for an inaugural run, here is what you need to know about trail etiquette.

Slow Down, Be Considerate, and Stay on the Trail!

When it comes to the trail, and in keeping with the Tread Lightly! principles, make sure to always go over, or through any obstacles, you encounter such as mud and rocks or remove them from the path. You never want to create a new path around a mud hole or a fallen tree, as doing so can create major devastation for the local wildlife and fauna in the area. Blazing your own trail will only result in destruction, erosion, and fewer opportunities for you to revisit some of your favorite off-road haunts.

Next, make sure you aren’t a lead-foot driver on the trail. Your Jeep is built to take a beating, but you’ll prolong its shelf life if you take it nice and easy over bumps and obstacles. Slowing down on the trails also ensures you have enough time to spot wildlife, hikers, broken down or stuck vehicles in your convoy, and oncoming vehicles while having plenty of time to react. Lastly, slowing down keeps the dust in the air to a minimum, affording you better visibility for all those things we just mentioned along with an overall ability to safely navigate the trail.

If you encounter other off-roaders, hikers, people on horseback, or wildlife, turn down your radio, quiet down the engine, and be respectful and considerate in sharing the trail.

Understand Who Has Right-of-Way to Avoid Dangerous Situations!

It is important to remember that all vehicles which are heading in an up-hill direction have the right-of-way as they often need their forward momentum to get up the incline. This may mean that you have to back up until you find a spot where you can pull over and let them pass you. This does not mean that it is okay to blaze a new trail and it does not mean that if the trail is a one-way, that you continue on. An easy way to deal with this is to have a spotter set up to ensure that the trail is clear for you and as a way to warn oncoming vehicles of your descent.

Garbage: Pack It In, Pack It Out. (Yours and Any You Come Across)

Bring along a trash bag so that you can pack out more than what you bring with you. This is called packing in and packing out, where you stop to pick up any garbage that you see along the trail and take it with you when you leave.

This means that all the garbage that comes from your snacks, your water, and any of your accessories or pets must also go with you. This also means that if you choose to head out into no man’s land to do some shooting, make sure to pack out your expended brass casings or shotgun shells.

A popular item to assist with “Pack it In, Pack It Out” is the Trasharoo Spare Tire Trash Bag. The bag is a great way to keep stinky trash out of the Jeep. It’s durable and looks pretty cool attached to the spare tire too. The Trasharoo isn’t just for trash though. It can be used for the beach and other adventures also. The bag is a great place to hold wet clothes, towels, and shoes.

Official description of the Trasharoo Spare Tire Trash Bag: You can haul away all the trash you accumulate in a weekend and maybe even make the trails a little cleaner as you go. The bag is made from high quality 900 denier canvas with wide buckles and a heavy-duty attachment to your existing external spare tire. Its large capacity carries up to 50 lbs of weight and fits a standard 30-gallon trash bag for ease of dumping. The Spare Tire Trash Bag is treated with a water-resistant interior coating and has drainage holes at the bottom for unexpected leaks.

(photo: Amazon/Trasharoo)

The three points above are the most critical aspects of off-road trail etiquette, but there are some other common tips to keep in mind. These include the following:

  • Know the trail that you are heading to and make sure you are authorized to wheel there. You’ll also need to find out if there are any permits, rules, and fees required. Further, you need to know whether the trail is open to your Jeep (some trails are only open to small vehicles such as ATVs). Lastly, make sure you read any, and all signs posted as these will have valuable information on them such as modes of transportation permitted and levels of difficulty.
  • While maintaining a decent interval (the space between vehicles), keep checking on both the vehicle behind you and the one in front of you. You don’t want just to assume that the Jeep behind you has made it through the last obstacle because they may be stuck or have gotten caught in a dust cloud and missed a turn.

For the vehicle in front of you, watching them navigate an obstacle can help you choose your own line when it’s your turn.  Remember to keep a little distance between your Jeep and it so you have some reaction time while driving – if they are on a steep incline, they could roll or slide back into you. Be sure to wait for the vehicle in front of you to clear an obstacle completely before proceeding.

  • Make sure to let yourself be known to other vehicles outside of your group. It is common practice to tell others how many vehicles are in your group and to indicate if you are the last vehicle in line.
  • If you take more than half an hour to get over or through an obstacle, call it. There is nothing wrong with getting help through it if you cannot make it on your own. You might get a little ribbing from your friends, but it’s better than trashing your Jeep or unnecessarily injuring yourself or someone else.
  • Do not let others pressure you into making a trail run that is uncomfortable. You are the driver of your Jeep. If you’re not comfortable attempting an obstacle, don’t. You can try again later after you’ve gained a little more experience.
  • Stop to help others and do not leave anyone stranded. There will be times when professional recovery trucks will have to be brought in, but in most situations, the right recovery gear can get most vehicles unstuck. If you have to send someone for help, make sure the driver left behind has food, water, and a means of communication.
  • Lastly, NEVER WHEEL ALONE. Although this is listed last, it is the cardinal rule in off-roading. Going it alone on the trails only sets you up for failure. You might make it out on your own a few times, but at some point, you will get stuck or lost without cell signal, and no one will be there to help. Going it alone only increases your chance of injury or death.

By following the above trail etiquette tips, you will be able to keep the entire adventure enjoyable for everyone involved and ensure that you preserve the trail for future use. Off-roading can be dangerous, but it should never be reckless. Have fun out there with your Jeep but stay safe while you’re at it.

A/T, M/T, R/T…….OH MY!!!! How’s a “HerJeeper” to Decide Which Tires Are Best for Her Jeep?

Photo Credit:

In the off-roading world, one of the most important decisions you will ever make regarding your Jeep is which tires to go with. This is such a pivotal decision because your entire rig literally rides on it. Being that your tires are the only part of your Jeep that is actually designed to come into contact with the ground, it’s essential that you set yourself up for success for the type of terrain you plan to do most of your driving on. Tire type can have major impacts on your fuel economy (Ha! I said fuel economy in reference to Jeeps) and your Jeep’s ability to perform the way you want it to.

JK Willys stock tire: 32″ BF Goodrich Mud Terrain T/A.

First things first. Let’s get some tire abbreviations and definitions out of the way so you can follow along more easily if you’re not familiar with these terms.

A/T = All Terrain – This type of tire is designed specifically to handle both on- and off-road driving. With a brawnier tread design as compared to the H/T, the A/T tire is favored by those seeking a more rugged visual aesthetic while cruising around town.

M/T = Mud Terrain – The mud terrain tire is purposefully designed with off-road capability as its primary purpose, while keeping in mind the secondary purpose of highway driving (you’ve got to get to your off-road driving destination after all). If you are a fan of Toyo Tires, you’ll know that they consider M/T to also mean “Maximum Traction.”

R/T = Rugged Terrain – A relatively recent addition to the tire market (introduced by Toyo in 2014), R/T tires are designed as a cross between the aggressive look and grit of an off-road M/T tire and the smooth, quiet ride quality of an A/T tire.

  • Per Toyo, “Off-road performance meets on-road comfort with the all-new Open Country R/T. Built rugged for any terrain, this powerful 4×4 tire offers excellent off-road traction, durable construction, and aggressive styling. Its ability to tackle mud, dirt, sand, and rocks is inspired by the legendary Open Country M/T, while its quieter ride is a nod to our best-selling Open Country A/T II.”

H/T = Highway Terrain (yeah, we use the term “terrain” lightly with this one) – This tire is specifically for paved roads. Most stock sedans and minivans come equipped with H/T tires – but you’re not driving a sedan or minivan, are you? Even if you are the proudest Pavement Princess around, you wouldn’t be caught dead with a set of H/Ts on your Jeep. And if you are, yes, we’re judging you.

There, now we can move on and dig into the nitty-gritty of what all that means for you and your tire-based decision.

I’ll use my own Jeep, Miss-Chief, as an example to illustrate my point. Because Miss-Chief is a Willys Wheeler edition, she came from the dealership brandishing M/Ts. I decided to upgrade my tires from 32’s to 35’s and in doing so, elected to keep the M/Ts on her because I like the aggressive look of them and I had plans to do some serious off-roading and muddin’. Purchasing tires; however, shouldn’t be based on appearance and price point alone.

Miss-Chief’s Toyo M/T tire. Cat not included.

An M/T tire typically features large tread blocks with spacious channels between them. While the channels are wider to allow for faster mud and water displacement (aka mudslingers), the tread blocks are composed of a beefy texture to ensure maximum traction in dirt and mud. Further, this type of tire often features an “over the shoulder” lug that extends from the tread area down onto the sidewalls which allows for even more grip as needed on trails with deep mud, snow, gravel, and rock. When aired down, the protruding lugs become an impressive part of the traction equation. Despite the popular misconception that M/Ts are horrible for the sand at the beach and snow in the mountains, an aggressive lug tire can do well in the sand, even without airing down, and a well-siped tire does well in the rain and snow. The Toyo Open Country M/Ts have an aggressive lug and are well-siped.

Miss-Chief in the sand at the beach.

I learned through my tire-based research that some of the downsides to the M/Ts are, however, that they don’t last as many miles as A/Ts (e.g., Nitto Trail Grappler M/T Light’s approximately 45k miles versus the Yokohama GEOLANDAR A/T G015’s 60k miles), and because of the added grip their tread blocks provide, some can be overbearingly loud on the roads – especially if you’re rocking a soft top. Another downside to the M/Ts is that additional energy is required to move that bulky tread, so a drop in fuel economy is almost inevitable.

In contrast, the A/Ts pros counter the cons of the M/T. Meaning, you’ll get more mileage for your dollar (in tire and fuel) and a considerably quieter ride on pavement. These factors make A/Ts ideal on your daily driver and are perfect for commuters and traveling longer distances but they’ll still allow you to hit some lighter trails. While A/Ts perform decently on many trails, they will never perform as well as M/Ts which are designed specifically to take you where you want to go off-road.

Miss-Chief after off-roading. Close-up of M/T tire tread.

And this brings me to the R/Ts.

R/Ts are the Goldilocks of tires. Not too aggressive, not too passive. They’re just right because they are a perfect blend of the best-combined traits of the A/T and M/T. It’s a tire that is tailored towards the daily driver and weekend warrior (weekdays for work, weekends for trails).

Toyo put a lot of thought into crafting a tire that would provide drivers with the best of both worlds. With a 3-ply polyester casing to resist punctures and improve overall tire durability when under heavy loads or being operated in an “aired down” state off-road, Toyo backs their R/Ts with a generous 45,000-mile treadwear warranty.

The R/T is like hitting the Vegas jackpot of a tire shelf life. Even better, Toyo offers a no regret trial period of either 500 miles or 45 days. In their words, “Buy ’em, try ’em, love ’em. If you are not completely satisfied after 500-miles or 45-days, we’ll take them back.” Think about how many other tire manufacturers you have ever heard say something like that?

At this point, and especially if you haven’t clicked on any of the outbound informational links sprinkled throughout this post, you’re probably wondering how much a set of these tires is going to cost you. I’ll tell you up front that you may want to consider selling a kidney because quality off-road tires don’t come cheap. And if you do choose to opt for a lower priced tire, you’ll likely sacrifice in quality and performance. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere around $250 for A/T; $300 for M/T; and $315 for R/T, per tire. For this comparison, I chose the popular tire size, 35/12.5R17, and the Toyo brand on Smaller tire sizes, like 33”, typically cost less. We’re not even going to discuss H/Ts because they don’t deserve it.

Miss-Chief tackling the rocky terrain with Toyo Open Country M/T.

So, while this might seem like a pretty pro-Toyo post, in all honesty, Toyo is the most popular manufacturer of R/T tires for off-roading. And, as a testament to their quality and reputation in the off-road community, I have Toyo’s on Miss-Chief with plans to eventually upgrade to the R/Ts once my current set reaches the end of its tread life.

Miss-Chief’s personal review: These are great tires (M/T) and I highly recommend them. I’ve had them on for about fifteen months now and they’ve done me right. I’ve gone off-roading with them many times and they have gotten me through the most challenging trails. I’ve gone through sand, rain, mud, rocks, and pavement and these tires have taken everything I threw at them. And they’re actually not as loud on the pavement as other aggressive tires. I barely hear them when the window is lowered and the radio is off.

Toyo has been around since 1938. It is not your more affordable tire but what you’re getting is a damn good tire! And it is a brand you can trust!

Tidbit knowledge: Nitto makes a great tire too! That’s because they are owned by Toyo. (insert winky face here)

Herjeeplife is NOT an affiliate of Toyo Tires. Herjeeplife has NOT been paid to write this post.




Saturday Food for Thought: Clubs and Cliques


If you’ve ever been a member of a club, then you’ve likely noticed that by proxy of being a member, non-members were more often than not looked upon with disdain and excluded from the community or fundraising activities your club took part in. But what happens when clubs themselves are discriminatory against their own members? What happens when Jeep clubs have cliques and can a club with cliques truly be a cohesive unit?

I tried to ask myself, “Why are Jeep clubs so important to me?” And the answer turns out to be that it’s about a lot more than just the Jeeps.

The Jeep lifestyle is one that has been perpetuated throughout a few generations of die-hard off-road aficionados – primarily of the male gender. Despite the fact that women built the first Jeeps manufactured during WWII, women are often considered incapable of operating Jeeps to the decidedly male standard.

Much like women in the military, lady Jeepers seem to carry very little weight with their male counterparts in Jeep forums and clubs, often finding themselves being talked down to or man-splained to, regardless of their mechanical knowledge or off-road prowess. That’s why so many new websites and closed groups have been created that cater specifically to lady Jeepers all over the country.

Although these groups are being formed on the founding premise that we ladies should be supporting and lifting one another up, there’s an unfortunate trend throughout many of them that rings true of many a high school hallway: cliques.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that not everybody is going to like everybody else, and I don’t expect that. What I do have an expectation of, however, is that adults will act like, well, adults.

You’ve all heard that one rule from your parent or guardian, “If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all.” But there are some club members who take the “don’t say anything at all” part a bit too literally. Meaning, they purposefully ignore, take advantage of, use, or belittle members of their own clubs.

Jeeps and the Jeep life are quite similar to other subcultures of society – in that they are formed by people who share common interests or goals and come together to work together while enjoying their commonalities. In pre-historic times, this is how early (wo)man survived. The premise is simple: there is strength in numbers and a collective knowledge benefits all.

Fast forward to today, where social media dominates our daily lives. In a narcissistic society striving toward the next selfie or a post going “viral,” the clubs we form are becoming more divided than ever, motivating us to compete against our sisters for the most likes or shares or worse yet, number of club members.

While many people seek the “community” aspects of a community within churches or volunteer organizations, Jeep clubs provide a sort of neutral ground where religious or political views are checked at the door. Instead, our Jeeps and the freedom they afford us are what unites our community.

I say all of that to pose a simple question: Why is it that some of us JeepHers have morphed into mean girls?

Without getting up on a feminist soapbox, I’ll point out that we women have collectively been repressed for centuries. Why in the world would we cast off those shackles, just to replace them with our own catty set?

So what if someone drives a stock rig?

So what if she wants to put decals and a light bar on her Jeep before she upgrades the suspension, wheels, or fenders?

It’s HER Jeep, so why the hell does it matter to YOU what she chooses to upgrade first? Maybe she doesn’t have the money to do much at first, but we all started somewhere, right?

One of the biggest issues we run across in the co-ed clubs is members of the same club putting each other down. Playing favorites when it comes to gatherings and club events or charging a fee to some members to recover them from a mud hole while high-fiving and doing it for free for others.

These are the reasons we create our women-centric groups as a place to feel safe and empowered to ask questions and learn about our Jeeps. These are supposed to be supportive, non-judgmental groups and clubs, and yet, they are some of the worst in the way of clique-y behavior.

These behaviors are not only childish, but they don’t represent the Jeep life in any way. You don’t have to like everyone else in your club, but purposefully being exclusionary or spiteful isn’t the answer and those types of reindeer games are completely unnecessary.

This is where I’ll go back to that whole “strength in numbers” statement. We have more power today to enlighten and support one another than at any other time in history. Our common threads should bring us together to overcome the pervasive subjugation that has kept us from forming the truly powerful bonds of sisterhood we are owed.

We form Jeep clubs and groups to unite with other like-minded women and Jeep enthusiasts. We all want to embody the Jeep life and the values that come along with it. I think it’s time that we stop letting our differences of opinion, social class, or financial status drive us apart, and let our love for Jeeps unite us in our common goal of thriving and living in the present with a supportive circle of sisters and their Jeeps.

Three Ways to Stop That Flippin’ Floppin’ Hood Flutter

Have you noticed on very windy days or when your Jeep is cruising down the highway, it looks like your hood is trembling?

Are you nervous that the hood might one day spontaneously pop open and come smashing back into the windshield? Yes, that is an unsettling visual, but the good news is that it is not likely to happen any time soon.

There is actually a term for that trembling of the hood, and it is “hood flutter.” Rest assured, hood flutter is a fairly common occurrence in Jeeps, particularly the Wrangler JK.

So, you can relax and trust that the hood won’t just pop open as if you hit the eject button on an unruly passenger, and the chances of the center metal hood latch and both side rubber hood latches ripping off simultaneously are pretty slim.

Even so, hood flutter can become a nuisance for the mind and a distraction for the eyes. But why is there flutter in the first place?

The reason for the hood flutter can be traced back to the very soft rubber used to fabricate stock hood latches. The stock latches become weak and stretch-prone over time as they are exposed to the elements, and that allows the hood to rise and flutter at higher speeds (typically, speeds >55 MPH). To fix this, you have to ensure the hood closes more tightly, sealing the gaps so it’ll no longer lift with gusting winds. When it comes to facilitating a more snug closure of your hood, you basically have three options, so let’s take a look at them.

*One way to reduce or rid the hood flutter is to purchase a hood lock, such as the Bolt hood lock like this one for all models of 2007 and newer Jeep Wranglers (JK/JKU):

Photo Credit: Allthingsjeep

What’s great about this Bolt hood lock, over other hood locks, is that it programs and opens with your Jeep’s ignition key, eliminating the need for extra keys on your keyring. The Bolt hood lock rivets into pre-existing holes (and bonus!) secures your under-hood items from theft (have you heard about the recent bout of battery thefts from Wranglers across the country?).

The lock has a stainless-steel shutter to keep out dirt and moisture and a plate tumbler sidebar to prevent picking and bumping. It also has a limited lifetime warranty and supposedly “eliminates hood flutter.” The price isn’t too bad either. Warning: you’ll need a 1/4 inch riveter to install this one. But the good thing about the four rivets is that they are considerably more secure/permanent than bolts and nuts and allow for easier access during install.

*Because the stock hood latches often degrade, stretch, and fail, the second option to reducing hood flutter (which can be used in addition to the hood lock) is new hood latches. There are quite a variety of new hood latches available on the market today, and it can become overwhelming to try to choose one. A favorite brand amongst Jeepers is the Rugged Ridge Black or Silver Aluminum Hood Catch Set:

Photo credit: Amazon

These hood catches are adjustable, durable, aesthetically pleasing, and are available for 07-18 Jeep Wrangler JK/JKU and now for the 97-06 Jeep Wrangler TJ/LJ.

Also available are locking hood latches that provide added security to the under-hood. Here’s an example:

Photo credit: Amazon

*The third way to eliminate hood flutter, while keeping it on the cheap, is to remove the center hood latch spring. This is the easiest and least expensive fix (because it’s free). When you open your Jeep’s hood, just under the hood next to the hood release latch is the hood spring (look up with the hood open).

The function of this spring is to push the hood open when you unlock the hood latches in order to reach in to release the center hood latch. The spring is a non-essential component and not costly ($5) to just toss into your spare parts box. It’s held on by one simple 8mm bolt, making it super easy and quick to remove.

Heck, if you end up not liking the springless hood, it’s reversible so you can pretend like the removal never happened and easily screw it back on – once you dig it out from the bottom of your stock parts box, that is.

Photo credit: Ebay



Photo credit: YouTube


Photo credit: Quadratec

For all you Wrangler JL/JLU Owners (lucky dogs)!!

Fortunately, for those with the new 2018 JL/JLU, these Wranglers already come with new and improved hood latches; therefore, no more violent hood jumping for them.