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Old 07-08-2013, 08:21 AM   #1
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Ladies, Please: Going Topless

First off, I realize there is no way to make the title of this thread benign.

My question: we are trying to decide on soft or hard top for my wife, and one of the factors will be whether or not she can open up on her own. She is 5'2" and can't do anything except open the sunrider/rear windows on my 2010 (though the '13 has spring assist).

So: assuming she can reach (steps), which is easier for you ladies: removing/installing hard top Freedom Panels or soft top with spring assist?

Thanks!

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Old 07-08-2013, 08:29 AM   #2
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go for it. the jeep we have is actually my wife DD and she takes it on and off alone at times, of course is gonna ve extremely annoying at first but after you get the hang of it it becomes easy.. we got our sift top rubi and wouldnt trade it for nothing in the world

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Old 07-08-2013, 08:30 AM   #3
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I don't have a factory softtop (yet), but I do have the Bestop Trektop NX & for me, flipping it open to the sunrider feature is MUCH easier than removing the freedom panels. Not sure if that helps at all.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:31 AM   #4
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I'm 5'4, so I'm a little taller than your wife, but it is mostly in my legs. I found the hard top freedom panels to be heavy and awkward. I was TERRIFIED of dropping them accidentally and chipping or breaking them.

I haven't put the soft top all the way down, I use the sun rider. It's easy enough on my own. I unlatch the top, and then push it backwards. I then fix it by standing on the back seat so it sits nicely. When I put the top back together, I'll start in the back seat and kind of pull the top forward, and then finish from the front seat.
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:31 AM   #5
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I'm 5'4, so I'm a little taller than your wife, but it is mostly in my legs. I found the hard top freedom panels to be heavy and awkward. I was TERRIFIED of dropping them accidentally and chipping or breaking them.

I haven't put the soft top all the way down, I use the sun rider. It's easy enough on my own. I unlatch the top, and then push it backwards. I then fix it by standing on the back seat so it sits nicely. When I put the top back together, I'll start in the back seat and kind of pull the top forward, and then finish from the front seat.
That's how my wife does it to.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:03 AM   #6
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It's sounding more and more like we'll want dual tops or to pick up a soft to after. The hard top would make things easier in winter here in NH- opening rear glass, heat, etc.- and I was wondering if we could save money by just going hard top.
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:39 AM   #7
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Note on handling the hard Freedom tops:

Given the rather largish size of the front panels, I agree handling them seems sort of awkward. What I've discovered though, is that comes with trying to bulldoze them from the edges and lift the 'whole panel' at once from an awkward angle.

The easy way to manage is to move the pieces a few inches to the side THEN use a palm under the 'center of mass' and one over the same 'center' and they suddenly seem much lighter. Think of the way the tiny waitress ladies balance a large tray of dinners at a restaurant.
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:30 PM   #8
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HTB has the hard top, I have the soft top - BY FAR I love my soft top. I can pull over, flip it up, throw on a hat and go...his is a little more time consuming. Why not take her to a dealership and test both??
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Old 07-08-2013, 01:34 PM   #9
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I'm a bit taller at 5'7" and I find the hardtop panels to be awkward. I'd prefer a soft top anyhow, it's easier to unzip the side windows and take out the back window and run it as a safari top then to mess with the hardtop.

If she prefers to run the A/C and could care less, she might like the hardtop more. I do notice it stays cleaner inside now since I run the A/C more now then ever before. I would consider swapping tops with someone, but this one has been leak free and I don't feel like taking a chance.
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Old 07-08-2013, 03:38 PM   #10
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I'm not exactly what the OP is looking for, as I'm a guy and I only have the soft top, but I am 5'2".

Taking the freedom panels off equate to flipping the sunrider back and putting the soft top all the way back equates to totally removing a hard top.

In both cases, the soft top seems to be the easier. For the front to be uncovered, the soft top is "unclip the front hook (x2), lift back, and organise the folds" and the hard top / freedom pannels, I believe is "unclip (x2), unscrew (x2), lift over and down and carry to the back or garage (x2)".

For the total removal of the Soft top it's "unzip/remove side window (x2), unzip & roll up rear window, unclip sun rider bar (x2), unattach corner (x2), and lay the top back". For the total removal of the hard top, 2 'normal' people are required with the removal of multiple bolts (as I recall from the 1 time I removed the hard top from my TJ).

In NH I would normally suggest a hard top, because vinal freezes and cracks easily. However, I have the 'premium soft top' on my new JKU and I am not sure how that would react in a colder climate. It might be that it reacts a lot better than the vinal top types.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:10 PM   #11
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I'd go with the hard top from the start and then troll the forums or craigslist for a used soft top. I think you'll find a better deal on a used soft top compared to someone selling their hard top. I'm 5'4 and I can get the panels off by myself in the rare occasion I have the hard top on. Soft top is much easier to get up and down but I have to stand in the back seat.
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Old 07-08-2013, 04:18 PM   #12
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My wife is small but is quick with the freedom panels... And that's while keeping a spyderwebshade on. It takes her probably 90 seconds for removal and maybe 180 seconds for reinstall.

That time doesn't include storage time because we just throw them in the garage. If you require actually putting them in the storage bag and then into the trunk then double that time, or even triple. The storage bag is a b*tch!

You just have to get used to the process.
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Old 07-08-2013, 08:21 PM   #13
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My girlfriend is 5'4" so she is a little taller and has a small frame. She can't do my freedom panels. If she climbs in the jeep it is very easy for her to work the soft top. I may vote for the soft top if you want it to be easier for her

BUT since you're in New Hampshire I'd definitely get a hard top on the jeep and buy a used soft top. You can usually get them for $500 or so and the hard top is extremely nice in the winter with snow and for skiing
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Old 07-08-2013, 09:37 PM   #14
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Heck, I'm 6'3" and a guy and I can tell you it's a no brainer that the soft top is easier. However I bought it aftermarket. I live in Ohio so I wanted the hardtop, then I hopped on CraigsList and found a brand new factory top for $500. This soft top is GREAT. Sunrider is twice as open as the freedom panels. And the sunrider is so much more convenient than storing those panels.

You're like me, you have actual weather haha. Constantly looking at the radar and hoping it doesn't rain. You can either lug the freedom panels along, or just toss back the sunrider and forget it. Taking the rear of the hard top is a major PITA!! And it will be compounded by the fact that your wife is so short (if you don't have help). Get both, but start with the hard top if you don't have the luxury of a dual top group
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Old 07-08-2013, 10:16 PM   #15
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agree the rear hard top is PITA....

on the other hand, the exquisite description above by Nano makes unnecessary steps. I've actually removed both my Freedom panels while stopped at a red light AND stowed them in the rear without leaving the driver seat.

Yes, it was a trick that I studied long & hard to figure out & unless someone is reallyReallyREALLY interested I won't bore you all.

Probably if I were 5'2" that little trick would have been a lot harder to do.

I appreciate the lure and advantages of the easy-flipped soft top. I have one that has never been mounted. Maybe someday.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:14 AM   #16
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It looks like most of the remaining Rock Lobsters around here are hard tops, so it might not matter too much- though it's good to know others' experiences, so if a soft came along I might snatch it up.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:51 AM   #17
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It looks like most of the remaining Rock Lobsters around here are hard tops, so it might not matter too much- though it's good to know others' experiences, so if a soft came along I might snatch it up.
Are they color matched hard tops? If they aren't, your dealer may be able to switch it to a soft top from another Jeep.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:55 AM   #18
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I am 5' 5" and have no problem with my soft top. I open the tailgate and stand in the back of my Jeep to lower and raise my top.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:55 AM   #19
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Interesting idea- they are not. And I assume the swap would bring my price lower or close to same for premium.

But there's still the issue of the rear window/insulation in New England weather.
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Old 07-09-2013, 09:06 AM   #20
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Interesting idea- they are not. And I assume the swap would bring my price lower or close to same for premium.

But there's still the issue of the rear window/insulation in New England weather.
I think the rear window is an issue. I didn't have any trouble staying warm in my TJ or JK in winter with just a soft top either in NJ or VA. You also have to make sure to clear heavy snow off the roof. Or I do for safety anyway
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Old 07-09-2013, 11:10 AM   #21
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I think the rear window is an issue. I didn't have any trouble staying warm in my TJ or JK in winter with just a soft top either in NJ or VA. You also have to make sure to clear heavy snow off the roof. Or I do for safety anyway
We have a garage, so I'm not worried about snow or rain, but trying to slide a carriage or groceries under the soft top bar will be a pain.

Anyone know if the premium top rear window is more flexible in winter?
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:35 PM   #22
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I probably don't reach the same cold temps you do, but I didn't have issues in the winter. Well, for groceries, I don't even generally have to touch the rear window to slide things in. Unless you're using brown paper bags that are overflowing, you should be okay there. Otherwise, you can just zip up the sides and flip it over the roof while you load things in and out. Might be better than rolling when cold.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:50 PM   #23
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thinkxingu - not sure where in NH you're located but I live on the Seacoast and recently purchased a 13 JK w/ a soft top. All my friends who own Jeeps in NH said that a soft top is more than adequate for New England winters... in fact, the sales guy who sold me my JK advised against the hardtop, saying that the softtop is more than capable.
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:01 PM   #24
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thinkxingu - not sure where in NH you're located but I live on the Seacoast and recently purchased a 13 JK w/ a soft top. All my friends who own Jeeps in NH said that a soft top is more than adequate for New England winters... in fact, the sales guy who sold me my JK advised against the hardtop, saying that the softtop is more than capable.
I'm just north of Nashua, and really the only thing holding me back from just a soft top is the rear window and the fact that it's not wired for hard top if I want to add it.

Pug, et al, talk to me about the lift assist. How easy is it?
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Old 07-09-2013, 06:28 PM   #25
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I opted for the hard top, and soon will get a soft top. Just keep in mind that a soft top is a lot cheaper to buy after the fact than a hard top.
I know people rock the soft top all winter, but I love the hard top for the colder months. Just seems to be quieter and warmer.
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:51 PM   #26
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I opted for the hard top, and soon will get a soft top. Just keep in mind that a soft top is a lot cheaper to buy after the fact than a hard top.
I know people rock the soft top all winter, but I love the hard top for the colder months. Just seems to be quieter and warmer.
+1 for hard top during the winter.
I am taller than your wife and don't have a problem getting the freedom panels out or in with a rack on top but they are awkward, slightly heavy and clumsy. I am not really worried about them too much and just throw them in the back of the jeep. The soft top is easy to put down by yourself, and I have to go through more steps than most because of the light bar from my rack. I can't just flip it back, but can do it all rather quickly. Getting it back on works best if I am standing on the back of the jeep but it is still a bit tough. My vote is get the hard top then buy a cheap soft top off Craig's list. I am happy to have both and learned really quickly the best way it worked for me. She will figure out a way that works well after a couple tries.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:36 PM   #27
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I'm 5'4 and I take my freedom tops off whenever I get the chance. Awkward yes a little but I have it down pat now. I keep a blanket in the back of my jeep n I put the first panel on the carpet then put the blanket down n put the other on top of that. I can have them installed in 5 min and uninstalled in 5. I'm a petite frame too. But I'm strong enough to maneuver the freedom panels well enough. I have a JKU by the way. Hubby just bought a 2 door soft top so I haven't had a chance to try taking that top off yet. I would say dual tops. The hard top is great when traveling since it makes loading stuff super easy having the flip up window. We also have two large dogs and its easier to load them in with the hard top than a soft top would be. I think both options are great.
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:46 PM   #28
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I'm 5'4 and I take my freedom tops off whenever I get the chance. Awkward yes a little but I have it down pat now. I keep a blanket in the back of my jeep n I put the first panel on the carpet then put the blanket down n put the other on top of that. I can have them installed in 5 min and uninstalled in 5. I'm a petite frame too. But I'm strong enough to maneuver the freedom panels well enough. I have a JKU by the way. Hubby just bought a 2 door soft top so I haven't had a chance to try taking that top off yet. I would say dual tops. The hard top is great when traveling since it makes loading stuff super easy having the flip up window. We also have two large dogs and its easier to load them in with the hard top than a soft top would be. I think both options are great.
Didn't the top come with a bag for the panels? My jeep did. I also have a JKU, and the panels go in the bag, that has built in straps that attach it to the back of the rear seat.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:24 AM   #29
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Didn't the top come with a bag for the panels? My jeep did. I also have a JKU, and the panels go in the bag, that has built in straps that attach it to the back of the rear seat.
They all come with that seat-back bag, but it's much easier to just stack them up in the back.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:30 AM   #30
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Didn't the top come with a bag for the panels? My jeep did. I also have a JKU, and the panels go in the bag, that has built in straps that attach it to the back of the rear seat.
If it is used it might not. Mine didn't.

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