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FrancisK 04-11-2013 03:16 AM

Solution to the hardtop problem?
Hello, thanks in advance for any help!

I picked up my JKU a couple weeks ago and I have a hardtop only. I have yet to take any panels off, damn michigan, but I have a concern regarding it before I even do so.

From my understanding I can fit the front and mid freedom panels pretty easily in the cargo area but I can't take the rear panel with me. This is potentially a big problem in Michigan and an even bigger problem on a long trip! I know the easy solution is to pick up a soft top but quite frankly I don't like how a soft top looks on the JKU, just my opinion.

I had an alternative in my head but I'm not sure if it even exists, I think I would call it a permanent summer bikini top? Basically I would like to utilize the front and mid freedom panels and the rear would be like a pickup truck with a bed cover, I would also need some type of back window. Think of a Chevy Avalanche or Escalade ext, like that but the truck part has a bed cover. I would pretty much leave it on all summer unless for some reason I need the cap on the back. Does anyone understand what I mean? Does such a product exist and does anyone see an issue with this that I'm not?

Thanks again!

mattdenney07 04-11-2013 03:38 AM

Not quite sure I understand, it's pretty late... But something like this?

LameStory 04-11-2013 04:22 AM

I think he means something more like this. Not exactly this, obviously, since this isn't a JKU, but something with that type of coverage. I swear I saw a picture of a JKU awhile ago with this type of setup but for the life of me I can't figure out where I saw it. I don't know if it was a custom job or what, but if it's out there to be had, maybe someone else has seen it. I do think the one I saw even utilized the freedom top panels, but maybe not.

LameStory 04-11-2013 04:36 AM

I fail. When I first clicked the link Mattdenny07 posted I only saw image #2 for some reason that didn't include the tonneau or rear windshield covers. Now I just looked more closely at it and see that it does. But I do still think I saw another version of it somewhere.

Paul04tj 04-11-2013 06:07 AM

Soft Top........... the only way to go!
I'm also in Michigan, and we've had a couple day so far that I've popped the Sunrider top open. I wish my TJ had that option. You can open it sitting at a light.

Greg_2012_JKU 04-11-2013 08:52 AM

I am from MI also and I would NOT have bought my JKU without the soft top!! Nothing better then cruising some country back roads with the tunes playing and the top down!!

I have had my freedom panels out 4 times already. If it's 45 or above, they come off. I am putting my soft top on this weekend!!

mattdenney07 04-11-2013 01:07 PM

Oh gotcha. Is this what you were thinking of?

Pair those two with a windjammer and a bikini top (or maybe even freedom panels?) and I think that get it pretty close to what we're looking for here.

FrancisK 04-11-2013 01:27 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone! I know the simple solution is the soft top but I just don't like how the soft top looks, plus I want to keep the stability of the hard top above my head. It's my personal preference I guess.

As long as the deck cover doesn't let in rain that is definitely what I'm looking for! The second piece would be the windbreaker but these ones don't look like they are made to seal completely, they just "break the wind". Does anyone know of any other products which would complete seal the back, basically acting as a back window which could be easily removed and set up?

Thanks again, I think with the freedom panels this will be a perfect solution!

Mr.Dave 04-11-2013 03:50 PM

You might want to consider a prop bar for the deck cover, so rain can run off it and not pool. I always run with the freedom panels on and no back, the sun cooks my face come july.

FrancisK 04-11-2013 07:34 PM

That's not a bad idea if it comes down to it but still I would rather have a back windshield to use in tandem with the deck cover when it's parked or weather acts up. The deck cover I wouldn't even take off at all until I put the hard top back on.

I'm hoping it's not something I would have to have custom made......

MI JeepSkate 04-11-2013 07:45 PM

im also from michigan, i cant stand soft tops. im cold blooded, ill take the freedom off any chance i get, most recently was 50 degrees. if the old men with the shelby convertables can handle it with just a coat and hat, so can i!

Panther57 04-11-2013 08:21 PM

I'm also in Michigan and went with the hard top only last summer. This summer I'm seriously considering investing in a soft top. But I have a 2 door, so don't know how to advise you for a 4 door.

Soft vs Hard ... both tops have advantages and disadvantages, especially in Mich.

Keiff 04-11-2013 08:39 PM

I only purchased the hard top as well. I don't like the looks of the factory soft top, or any of it's direct replacements, like Bestop's Supertop. I do dig the fastback look, as well as the bikini/duster/windjammer combo. I'm being drawn to the Offroad Heros product.

I've heard it can take over 2 months from placing the order to get it, but it's due to the guy being kind of a one-man operation. The Multi top is pricey, but versatile. You don't really see the Cargo top much. While some claim it looks "hummerish", I think it looks slick and original.

By the time I save up for it, I might go all in and get the combo package. Until then, I'll just rock my bikini top and keep an emergency cover on hand when the hard top is stashed in the garage.

FrancisK 04-12-2013 11:15 AM

It looks like this is going to be a problem, I can't believe nobody makes pieces made to be used with the freedom panels! I guess that just makes too much sense right?

After doing some extensive searching I found others have tried similiar things, but more specifically they were trying to use the wraparound windjammer, although you need soft components for the wraparound so it didn't work. Others have modified regular windjammers with sloppy results. Unless I'm missing a product it looks like this is something which would need to be custom done.

I wonder how big the market of freedom panel owners is? I think a one piece or even 2 piece unit which sits on the back like a deck and behind the rear seats like a windshield would be a game changer.....

onetraveller 04-12-2013 12:17 PM

I think you are a little confused on how the Freedom top works. There is no "mid-panel". There are two front panels, one over each seat. The rest of the top, from the soundbar back, is a single piece. The problem with the top you are proposing is how to deal with the roll cage. I have seen some custom attempts to stop the hard top at the back seat, but it is a major effort to form the top around the rollbar, make it removable, and not have it leak.

This top from Wild Boar is the closest I have seen to what you are looking for in a hard top. But it still isn't exactly what you are seeking.

Fastback Hard Tops for your Jeep Wrangler

There is also the top shown in this article, but it requires extensive modifications to the Jeep.

The Jeep pickup returns to Moab with the Jeep Wrangler JK-8 Independence


FrancisK 04-12-2013 06:50 PM

Wow, how the hell did I not realize that sooner???? I feel like a jackass.....

I guess it's really soft top or nothing, no other alternative will protect from weather.....

mattdenney07 04-13-2013 01:32 AM

Yup, after re-reading your original post, I think this is as close as you're gonna get :)

FrancisK 04-13-2013 01:40 AM

Well regardless thanks for the replies everyone, this is a great forum with a lot of knowledge!

mcdull 04-13-2013 03:29 AM


Originally Posted by FrancisK (Post 3627883)
It looks like this is going to be a problem, I can't believe nobody makes pieces made to be used with the freedom panels! I guess that just makes too much sense right?

Generally speaking there are far fewer options for hard top owners.
I'm still surprised there is no simple aftermarket trunk cover for hard top so other people can see what's in the trunk.
I don't need a $400 metal enclosure like Tuffy. And all those tonneau covers can only be used when the hard top is off.
All I need is just a sub $100 sliding cover like in ever SUV or a hardboard-thin flipped up cover in hatchback.

Might be I just get a 1/8 board and some felt cloth from home depot to make a flipped up trunk cover myself, the bolts close to the backseat where the hardtop sit on should be good to bolt the cover on.
In the meantime, I'm using $5 mover cloth from harbor freight to cover my stuffs.

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