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: toyotires.com

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 Amazon.com. 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.

 

 

 

Trail Rated®: What That Means for Your Jeep Wrangler

Jeep introduced its Trail Rated® badge back in 2004 as a way to let consumers know that the models they were buying were indeed trail worthy. Jeep has always fostered a reputation that holds their vehicles as an excellent off-roading option for individuals who want to have a little more fun with their Jeep.

Essentially, the Trail Rated® badge means that the model you are buying has surpassed Jeep’s strict and rigorous testing criteria and specifications. Currently, the only vehicles that hold the coveted Trail Rated® status are the Jeep Compass, Jeep Wrangler, Jeep Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and the Jeep Renegade Trail Hawk.

Although many drivers may never take their vehicles off-roading, it is an experience that is easily doable by those who have a Jeep Wrangler in possession of the Trail Rated® badge. For those curious, here is what your Jeep Wrangler Trail Rated® status denotes. 

  1. Ground Clearance: Your Jeep Wrangler will have a large amount of ground clearance on its underside, giving you enough room to traverse across terrain like rocks, logs, and outcroppings without taking on damage to your undercarriage. This allows you to go over those obstacles you can’t get around.
  2. Maneuverability: Your Jeep Wrangler has precision steering and optimized wheelbases, ensuring that you can take on tight trail turns and quick direction changes. This is important if you are trying to avoid narrow gaps or navigate around a sudden accident.
  3. Water Fording: Your Jeep Wrangler will be able to traverse through bodies of water of up to thirty inches. Other vehicles would not be able to do this without taking on serious electrical damage, water damage to the interior, or stalling. This means that all electrical connections and body openings are sealed tight so that you can get through streams and creeks without fear.  An important note to make with this though is that bodies of water that are more than thirty inches deep should not be traversed through relying entirely on the stock Trail Rated® components, as damage is more likely to occur.
  4. Articulation: Your Jeep Wrangler will be able to maintain forward momentum for longer durations, even when one wheel is off the ground due to the high suspension flexibility that each model has. Your wheels will always remain stable and engaged even if one of them is in the air.
  5. Traction: Your Jeep Wrangler will fare better on roads that are both rocky and slippery. You will be able to take on unpredictable terrain and driving conditions with peace of mind.

In order for a Jeep Wrangler to receive the sought-after Trail Rated® status, it must surpass the testing phases in Northern Michigan. The terrain there is some of the most challenging, with unforgiving rock ranges, frigid cold temperatures, and treacherous trails. Essentially, owners of a Trail Rated® Jeep Wrangler can be confident in knowing that their vehicle is versatile and capable, even in the toughest of weather conditions and terrain.

Jeep Jamboree USA 2018

Jeep Jamboree Convoy

2018 is Well Under Way and the Latest Season of Off-Road Adventure is Upon Us!

JeepHERS are simply cut from a different cloth than other women.

Maybe it’s because the general female population has yearned to be free of their societal shackles for several millennia or maybe it’s because of our distinct history with our nation’s favorite off-road past-time. The reason doesn’t really matter, does it? Because whatever it is, we’re just different. But in a good way, mind you.

And that’s why, no matter what New Year’s resolutions we’ve already given up on, this year should be our year of adventure.

To quench our need for muddy, rocky, off-road fun, Jeep Jamboree USA has organized an even more robust calendar this year than those past. With a wide selection of events for all skill levels across the country to choose from, JeepHERS (and their Jeeper counterparts and offspring) can benefit from the best-organized off-roading experiences available today.

But before you get too deep in the mud of booking your Jeep adventures and beefing up your 4×4 steed, take a few moments to learn about the tradition and heritage of Jeep Jamboree USA.Jeep Jamboree USA 2018

The Legacy of Jeep Jamboree USA

Although Jeep Jamboree USA wasn’t officially founded until 1982, for almost three-quarters of a century, Jeep enthusiasts have been organizing and leading guided off-road trail rides for Jeep devotees from around the world.

Beginning in 1953, founder Mark A. Smith (click on his name to learn all about this legendary Jeep icon) put together the would-be organization’s first adventure which crossed the Sierra Nevada Mountain range via the aptly named Rubicon Trail.

Around the same time and after learning how successful the initial event had been, then manufacturer of Jeep vehicles, Willys Motors, decided to join in on the fun. Since the two entities joined forces, it’s been a beautiful partnership that has grown the Jeep tribe by bringing Jeep people together through the decades for good, clean dirty fun (yeah, that’s an oxymoron. I know).

What Are Jeep Jamboree USA Events All About?

Family and friends. That’s the simple answer. But really, Jeep Jamboree USA events go much deeper because they are all about building a vast network of like-minded people, from all walks of life, and coming together to support one another. That’s something seemingly rarely seen anymore in today’s society.

Whether you are a seasoned 4×4 veteran, or a noob with a stock Jeep Wrangler (although not limited to Wranglers), Jeep Jamboree USA introduces you to a tribe who will welcome you with open arms as long as you are willing to actively participate and contribute to the community.

Every Jeep-centric overland excursion is guided by experts who are just as enthusiastic about showing you what your Jeep can do as you are in learning about it.

Although there are no prerequisite skill levels required to attend a Jeep Jamboree USA event, there may be vehicle and minimum gear requirements as described on each event’s itinerary.

Because many of the overland treks are multiple days in length and consist of crossing remote areas and challenging terrain, mandatory equipment requirements must be adhered to in order to participate.

Items such CB radios are mandatory for all Jeeps participating so that warnings, emergency information, and terrain details can quickly be passed back through the convoy. Here’s the official Jeep Jamboree USA MANDATORY EQUIPMENT LIST for all vehicles:

  • CB radio is MANDATORY! There are many safety issues regarding upcoming obstacles transmitted over the CB radio by your trail guides. It is required that each vehicle have a CB radio. Learn interesting facts about the area – history, local plant, and wildlife, as well as exciting stories (and sometimes off-road scavenger hunts).
  • Jeep vehicles must have four-wheel drive with a low-range (4-LO) transfer case.
  • Front and rear tow points must be properly mounted to the frame with grade-eight bolts.
  • Drawbars, receiver hitches, or aftermarket bumpers with manufacturer-installed clevis or D-ring anchor points are acceptable alternates to tow points. If you don’t have tow points, you may be turned away without a refund.
  • All open-topped vehicles, including older models (CJs, Scramblers, and Willys), must have roll bars.
  • A full-size spare tire; a space-saver spare (donut) just won’t do.
  • Street legal vehicle with current license plate.

Although Jeep Dogs are often our favorite family members and trail companions, Jeep Jamboree USA strongly discourages participants from including their furry friends in Jeep Jamboree USA events due to pet exclusions in certain areas, allergies, and the often punishing conditions extended off-roading exposes them to. Here’s their official statement:

“Jeep Jamboree USA strongly suggests that pets are not appropriate on Jeep Jamboree USA events. Long hours in vehicles, association with people unfamiliar to the animal, access to inappropriate foods, restricted park areas, leash rules and laws, and many other drawbacks make including pets in the events punishing to the pet, the owner, and the other participants.”

If you’ve read to this point, you should be starting to feel that pleasant Jeep wanderlust tingle. Why not take a trip on over to the Jeep Jamboree USA website now to learn everything you need to know about choosing, registering, and preparing for a Jeep Jamboree USA adventure and make Jeep memories that will last a lifetime.

Click here to view 2018 Jeep Jamboree USA Jeep Trips that start in March and end in November around the country.

Jeep Wrangler JK at Jeep Jamboree USA event.
Miss-Chief sporting an ARB awning/room enclosure combo at the October 2017 Jeep Jamboree USA event at Uwharrie National Forest, North Carolina.

Have you attended a Jeep Jamboree USA event? Tell us about your experience and share your photos on the herjeeplife.com Facebook page.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this post and don’t want to miss out on other cool blog posts like this one, be sure to subscribe to this page and “like” our Facebook page at herjeeplife.com. You can also find us on Instagram @herjeeplife. Thanks for visiting!

 

Be Your Own Valentine and Treat Yourself to One (or all) of These Pieces of Jeep Jewelry

Valentine’s Day. Who needs it?

Well, we’d like to propose something a little different and say that you, dear Jeepette, need Valentine’s Day as an excuse to spoil yourself.

Whether you already have a sweetheart or you’ve already stocked up on Ben & Jerry’s, why not be your own Valentine this year? Because flowers die and chocolate melts, treat yourself to a little something special.

But who are we kidding? We already know you’re dating your Jeep.

Something that not-so-subtly lets others know you’re unabashedly proud to be a Jeep Girl.

Heading out for a night of karaoke at a local dive bar to drown your lonely sorrows? Why not accessorize with a handmade  Jeep Girl /Jeep grill genuine leather cuff bracelet?

Jeep Girl handmade leather cuff bracelet
Badass, yet feminine, and you know your money is going to support the artisan that created it.

Want to class it up a little? Here’s a lovely silver Jeep Wrangler bracelet that boldly announces your Jeep Girl status while being reserved enough to wear at the office or the best martini lounge in town.

silver jeep wrangler, jeep girl bracelet
Keep it classy with silver!

Remind yourself how beautiful you are (Jeep hair and all) and take yourself mudding with this silver Jeep necklace.

handmade silver Jeep wrangler necklace
Another lovely handmade Jeep accessory for a lovely JeepHer!

If charm bracelets are your thing why not add a silver Jeep charm to your Pandora bracelet. But you’ll have to get it from Amazon because Pandora doesn’t make Jeep charms – I checked.

silver jeep charm for pandora charm bracelets
Perfect for charm bracelets or to use as a necklace pendant!

Now, if you’re in the mood to be extra sweet to yourself, you can buy the white gold version of that same Jeep Wrangler charm.

Speaking of charm bracelets…

handmade silver Jeep wrangler charm bracelet
I’m fairly certain I need this in my life!

If you’re in the market for some playful, dangly earrings, here are some fun ones:

dangly jeep wrangler 4x4 earrings

This Valentine’s Day, treat yourself and let the world know you’re a strong, independent JeepHer that doesn’t need anybody to give you the gift of Jeep – although, it’s always nice to receive gifts, so feel free to drop a hint and share these Jeep gift ideas with your special someone.

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