Element Protection To Go
Even here in California, it sometimes gets a little too chilly to roll around without a top on. Having no top whatsoever is great for a portion of the year, but when the wind starts whipping around the year, but when the wind starts whipping around the windshield and starts to freeze things that shouldn't be frozen, it's probably time to get something on the roof. Driving up to Idaho and back for the Ultimate Adventure taught us that.
But in cases like our K5 Blazer, a giant fiberglass top can add some serious weight and can certainly make your rig top-heavy. Besides that, the factory hardtop really takes away from the outdoor off-road experience, so we were really looking for the option of a ragtop that we can fold up and throw in the back of the truck, just in case we wuss up and need something overhead.
Remembering back to our youth and the Blazers of yore, there was a company called Kayline that made tops for Blazers and Broncos, but we hadn't seen them around for quite some time. A couple clicks on the mouse, and we found the new Specialty Top Company, a brand of products created from the old Kayline stuff. The name had changed and so had the product, but that was something we would not fully appreciate until trying to install the top.
Specialty Top Company had also branched out to make tops for just about every open-top 4x4 you can think of. All K5s, all Broncos, Ramchargers, Zuks, all Jeeps (even the Jeepster!), and 4Runners are covered in its lineup. The tops can be ordered with a vinyl or denim finish in a variety of colors, and with snaps or STC's Fasttrac system. We went with the Fasttrac K-locks on a black denim vinyl top, as the denim gives the top more of a matte look.
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After installing the top in Northern California, we drove through the night back to Southern California, the top keeping the heat in and the cold off us. Sometimes you need something in between you and sub-40 degree temperature (we know Canadians are laughing at us now). We spent the next three days wheeling, flogging the Blazer through mud, and twisting the truck up. The top's upper ribs creaked a little during some extreme twist, but no part of it ever popped off the framing (except when we hit a rock and the tailgate flew open-we're thankful the vinyl top popped off its rail then, or we could have been buying another top). The STC top kept us covered, and mud- and rain-free inside the cab.