Every October we dutifully cinch the Bestop Supertop on our YJ for the upcoming winter months to keep the interior warm and dry and block prying eyes from viewing our stuff. But every April, off comes the Supertop and on goes the bikini top for months of open-air wheeling. It’s been a ritual for this bare-bones Jeep since we bought it. But with the joys and freedoms of open-air Jeeping come certain trade-offs in comfort and security. Morning dew can make the seats all wet, highway driving can make your bikini flap and lightweight stuff fly away in the breeze, and thieves can do the ol’ reacheroo inside the vehicle and steal anything of value you’re careless enough to leave unattended. Normally we deal with these minor issues, but this year we decided to throw a modest budget at outfitting our Wrangler for summer driving with some quality gear. So check out our summer setup.
Step By Step
A smart new twist on the traditional bikini top, SpiderWebShade offers several styles of bikini tops that don’t fasten to the windshield header like traditional bikini tops. That’s super nice for people like us who prefer to run with the windshield down. Furthermore, once you install the shade, you never have to take it off since they fit under the factory hard or soft top. The company offers two different vinyl-coated polyester top materials that are breathable so they don’t flap on the highway and are resistant to mold, mildew, rips and tears. The UltraMesh comes with a 1-year warranty, while its tougher TrailMesh counterpart is supported by a 5-year warranty. The company offers too many different styles for CJs, Wranglers, and other vehicle to list and is continually upgrading its product line, such as the TrailMesh top we chose designed for aftermarket cages like our GenRight model. The tops are completely made in the USA and install quickly and easily.
Carpet and fabric seats trap dirt, mud, moisture, and odors. Ditch ’em. The first thing we did to the interior of our YJ was rip out all the carpet and permanently pull the floor drain plugs. We swapped the crushed factory seating for a pair of Bestop TrailMax front buckets in grey vinyl and a TrailMax II Fold & Tumble rear seat. Aside from four years of accumulated trail dirt, the seats have held up remarkably well, and if we’re ever stuck in a downpour, they easily wipe dry.
We’ve used this Bestop All Weather Trail Cover on several of our Jeeps since we got it eight or nine years ago. Now available with door opening protection flaps, our older “flapless” model has stood the test of time and covers the interior enough to keep the seats, dash, and steering column dry in the event of a major downpour. We’ve long since lost the stuff sack that came with it, but it folds down compactly enough that we’ve brought it along on wheeling trips to cover the Jeep in the hotel parking lot. Or, at home we’ll just toss it on to keep the morning dew, tree leaves, and bird droppings out of the interior.
Bag Your Gear
One of Bestop’s newest offerings is this Spare Tire Storage system. Available in three sizes for spare tires between 30-33 inches, 34-37 inches; and 38-40 inches, we ordered the smallest (PN 54133) for our 31-inch spare. The Spare Tire Storage system is based off a tire wrap base that quickly attaches to the spare tire with adjustable clip fasteners onto which one rear bag, two top bags, and two side bags can easily be attached and secured. It allows us to securely bag carry-ons and any small cloth, paper, or lightweight items that could otherwise fly out of our topless Jeep at faster road speeds. You can access the bags attached to the tire wrap base, or remove them in a matter of seconds to take with you.
One big issue with open-air wheeling is securing your valuables when you’re away from the vehicle. Long the industry leader in this arena, Tuffy Security Products offers a full line of super-high-quality, made-in-USA lockable steel products ranging from replacement center consoles to glovebox inserts to underseat drawers to a bevy of other offerings. For us, we only really need a lockable solution for our wallet and/or carry pistol so the company’s Conceal Carry Valuables Tote (PN 289-089-01) fit the bill.
The system is comprised of a mounting sleeve that can be bolted vertically or horizontally to any flat surface and a removable, locking security box that’s lined with soft, durable material. The security box is lockable inside or outside of the mounting sleeve, and can’t be removed from the sleeve until unlocked. We opted for Tuffy’s upgraded Pry-Guard locking system with a 10 tumbler, double-bitted combo lock rather than the standard keyed lock. The system comes with one mounting sleeve, but separate sleeves can be ordered (PN 289-MNT-01) so you can use the same security box in multiple vehicles or in your home. We secured the mounting sleeve to the top of our driver-side wheelwell where it’s easy to get to.
Wranglers and CJs built before 1992 came with simple lap belts for the rear-seat occupants. When we outfitted our YJ with an aftermarket cage some time ago we made sure we welded in bungs to accept factory-type three-point shoulder belts. We searched for some good factory take-outs, but eventually gave up when all showed scary signs of wear in the nylon webbing. Quadratec carries very high quality, USA-made replacement seatbelts for CJs and all ’87-’06 Wrangler vehicles. We ordered three-point retractable belts in black (PN 14247.0301) that function just like OE-equipment and will better keep our rear passengers from shooting out into space in the event of an accident or rollover.