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.

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.

Jeep Hair, Don’t Care

Maybe it was while you were driving down Main Street or on the highway as you set out for a road trip, but you’ve seen her. You know you have.

Hell, maybe you are her.

She’s the one cruising along without a worry in the world, hair blowing in a torrent of road wind because she’s got the top and doors off her Jeep.

She’s the woman who unabashedly steps down out of her Jeep Wrangler at the supermarket or gas station with that classic windblown look we’ve all come to know and love as “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care.”

She might attempt to pat her coif back into some semblance of neatness. Or not. Either way, she’s a badass, and it’s her prerogative.

As women, society typically dictates that we present well. Meaning, makeup must always appear to be freshly applied, lip gloss popping, nails perfectly manicured, legs and pits shaved, never a drop of sweat, and nary a hair out of place on our heads.

But there comes a time when unbridled freedom must ring true.

The times when we let our hair down and ride topless are the most liberating. Much like the release of coming home and popping the clasp on your bra after a long hard day at work, there’s nothing quite like riding down the road with some classic rock on the radio and your hair whipping wildly all around your head.

While many of their male devotees continue to scoff (forgetting or purposefully ignoring the history of the Jeep’s origin), the Jeep brand has increasingly embraced their ever-growing female tribe. Last year, Jeep partnered with Snapchat to offer a custom Jeep Hair, Don’t Care lens to ring in their nationally recognized 2nd annual Jeep 4×4 day on April 4th.

Breaking free of the societal shackles otherwise known as “acceptable standards of grooming for women” is not only liberating in a figurative sense, it quite literally encourages us to push our own everyday boundaries to explore areas outside our typical comfort zone. We’re free to embrace the wild yearnings and wanderlust of youthful adventure, if only for the 20-minute commute to the office.

Sure, you probably won’t see her on the next cover of Vanity Fair or Cosmo, but damn, you know you want to be her.

Proud of your windblown hair? Share your favorite Jeep Hair, Don’t Care photos in the comments!

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Women and Jeeps: A Brief History

No, Actually. It Didn’t Start with Barbie

Barbie wore pink, kept herself well-groomed, and never got her hands dirty. Then she got a Pink Jeep! I’ve always felt sorry for Barbie but never more so than when she bought that Jeep. I saw it as a cry for help. The poor girl was so conflicted living in that overbearing pink haze.

Her soul yearned to fly in a topless Jeep along dirt trails, splashing across streams, and on up to the top of the hill. Coming to a stop at the top, she props her dirty flip-flopped feet on the dash and chugs a bottle of water; pure nirvana. For poor Barbie, it was just a moment’s fantasy.

Give the girl credit though; she did buy herself that symbol of carefree delight. But she compromised when she bought it in pink. I doubt Barbie drove her Jeep anywhere other than shopping – the original “Mall Crawler.” For sure she never took it out early Sunday mornings to compete with Ken and the rest of the boys on a hill climb.

Where It All Began

The bond between women and Jeep began in the factories at the outset of WWII. The army needed a durable and versatile all-terrain vehicle. Women on the home front answered the call. They flooded the factories to assemble and test drive the Jeeps before sending them overseas. They knew they were doing their part.

women building Jeeps
Women building military Jeeps at the Willys Overland Factory in Toledo, Ohio (c.1942)

Women served in the war on all fronts, many of them driving Jeeps as part of their service. Date night meant a Jeep; sometimes as a destination. When the war ended, the young girls back home were thrilled when their Dad, brother, or uncle brought home an Army Jeep. It was joyriding at its best. The great-granddaughters of those women were the first to rock their own Jeep Power Wheels. So what if it was pink?

Considering the way Jeep made its initial mark in our world, it’s no surprise that Jeep is synonymous with youth. Jeeps do what all other vehicles do; get you where you need to go. The difference is a Jeep can sometimes take you places other vehicles can’t. Most important for many is, wherever you go in a Jeep, it’s fun!

Where the Dirt Road Ends

Women never forget their first love and for many, that was a Jeep Wrangler. About two-thirds of all cars are purchased by women. Automakers, in their effort to capture that demographic, have manufactured gender specific cars. One even manufactured their model in pink. Few women bought those cars. It turns out women buy Jeeps for the same reasons men do. Sitting behind the wheel of a Jeep inspires confidence and control. It also promises carefree fun.

As adults with careers and families, women may leave the back roads behind but not necessarily their Jeeps. They choose newer models that represent responsibility like fuel efficiency, safety, and dependability, such as the Jeep Patriot, Cherokee, Compass, and Renegade.

Hit a bump in the road while driving a new Jeep model and you won’t get jolted from your seat. It’s time for luxury and modern electronics but one thing has not changed. A Jeep woman is still a Jeep woman; she’s still having fun behind the wheel.

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