What Is The Best Jeep Soft Top? (2021 Reviews)
Even if you live in a mostly sunny place, being able to cover your Jeep with a soft top has lots of benefits. A soft top protects you and your vehicle from the rain, cold, and the sun, and the ability to transition from an open car to a covered one makes for a more versatile driving experience.
However, choosing your Jeep soft top can feel like a real challenge, and narrowing down the field of countless options is enough to make anyone’s head spin. To help make things easier, we’re going to share our favorite Jeep soft tops with you. We’ll also discuss what makes an excellent soft top in our handy buyer’s guide.
Ready to find out everything you need to know? Keep reading!
- The Best Jeep Soft Tops: Our Favorites
- Best Overall – Bestop 5682035 Black Diamond Trektop NX
- Editor’s Pick – Sierra Offroad Soft Top for the 2003-2006 Jeep Wrangler
- Premium Pick – Bestop 5482317 Supertop NX Black Twill
- Best Budget – Smittybilt 9970235 Black Diamond OE Style Replacement Top B003CGH13S
- Best Value – Pavement Ends Black Diamond Replay Replacement Soft Top
- Honorable Mention (Budget) – Sierra Offroad Factory Style Soft Top
- Why Purchase a Jeep Soft Top
- Hard Tops vs. Soft Tops
- Soft Tops
- Hard Tops
- Types of Jeep Soft Tops
- Key Features in a Jeep Soft Top
- Ease of Removal
- How do you clean a Jeep soft top?
- How long do Jeep soft tops last?
- How do I determine the correct fit?
- Can I put a hard top over a soft top?
- Can I install it myself, or do I need to hire a professional?
- How long does it take to install a soft top?
- Final Thoughts
The Best Jeep Soft Tops: Our Favorites
Let’s get right down to business with our favorite Jeep soft tops. After reviewing countless products, here are the models that stood above the competition.
Best Overall – Bestop 5682035 Black Diamond Trektop NX
First up on the list is our choice for the Best Overall soft top, and it’s no surprise that a Bestop model took this prize. If you’re looking to give your Jeep a modern touch, look no further than the Black Diamond Trektop NX. It’s state of the art, both in construction and style, and it can even help improve performance in your Jeep.
The Black Diamond Trektop NX is made from heavy-duty 28-oz multi-ply fabric. It has a textured exterior made from sailcloth fabric, which is an industry-standard for UV resistance and fade-free design. The top is even constructed to help improve aerodynamics, though that’s probably not much of a concern for Jeep owners.
One thing we love is that this soft top requires no traditional bows or frames for installation. It fits 1997 to 2006 TJ Wranglers, and it comes with door skins and windows. The windows are DOT-approved, removable, and available in 18 or 30 percent tint. It even has a fold-back sunroof to give you an open-air driving experience whenever you want.
Another way this product stands out is its improvements in noise performance and weather insulation. Its advances in noise reduction are thanks to the addition of high-strength arch bars and a tensioning strap. The only downside is that it doesn’t fit on Unlimited models, and like most Bestop products, it’s rather pricey. But it’s well worth the investment.
- Easy installation
- Two-year limited warranty
- Modern and stylish
- Includes a fold-back sunroof
- Doesn’t fit Unlimited models
Editor’s Pick – Sierra Offroad Soft Top for the 2003-2006 Jeep Wrangler
Sierra is another soft top manufacturer that delivers quality products for Jeeps. In particular, this one features a factory-style design that can replace an existing soft top on 2003 to 2006 Jeep Wranglers. It’s got a price that won’t hurt your wallet, but you still get a product that’s durable and long-lasting—which is why it captured our Editor’s Pick prize.
The Sierra Offroad Soft Top is made from marine grade sailcloth, which will help guarantee that your soft top lasts as long as possible. It provides UV and fade resistance (another way it increases the lifespan), and the two-ply waterproof fabric has heat-treated seams that keep the cold out. It also has large, heavy-duty zippers that open and close smoothly.
This product comes with a top cover, oversized DOT-approved windows, and it’s available in three colors: Black Diamond, Khaki Diamond, and Saddle Sailcloth. Note that it doesn’t fit Unlimited versions, and you’ll need to have factory hardware installed on your Jeep to install it.
- Comes in three colors
- Three-year warranty
- Includes self-correcting zippers
- Requires you to have factory hardware
- Doesn’t fit Unlimited Jeeps
Premium Pick – Bestop 5482317 Supertop NX Black Twill
Our Premium Pick comes from Bestop, which is no surprise considering the impressive quality this brand delivers. The Supertop NX is a complete replacement for 2007 to 2018 Jeep Wranglers, and it comes with replaceable and removable rear and side windows.
This soft top is made from a triple-layer black twill fabric, which is superior to and more durable than most of the materials other manufacturers use. You can feel the difference when you touch it—the soft top is softer and more flexible, plus it’s wrinkle resistant. You can generally find this kind of material on high-end cars.
The fun doesn’t stop there, however. The soft top is reinforced with 135-gauge polyester industrial threads, and it has heat sealing to protect against cold weather and rain. Its hardware is coated in black powder to protect against scratches and corrosion, and an adjustable bow system keeps the fabric taut. The 40-mm thick vinyl windows are tinted.
The best part about this product is that you can easily open the Sunrider sunroof panel. Just fold it behind the seats for a convertible feel. This product is heavier and more expensive than most, though it’s well worth the high price tag.
- Extremely high quality
- Lifetime warranty
- Has a fold-back Sunrider sunroof
- It’s cumbersome
Best Budget – Smittybilt 9970235 Black Diamond OE Style Replacement Top B003CGH13S
The Smittybilt Black Diamond OE Style Replacement Top took our prize for the Best Budget pick. We like this model because, despite its lower price tag, you still get a quality product—which is what you would expect from renowned brand Smittybilt.
This factory replacement soft top offers all the qualities you want for your Jeep, like strength, thickness, and durability, plus a one-year warranty. It’s made from a 23-oz multilayer textured marine-grade fabric, as well as DOT-approved first-quality material on the windows.
This construction reduces the amount of sunlight coming in, and the windows are heat-sealed to protect from the elements. It also keeps air out with wick stop threads in the fabric that keep the stitch holes sealed. Plus, the self-correcting zippers are robust and run smoothly.
There are a few negatives to mention, like that vinyl-coated fabric is not the most durable material. And in heavy rain, you may find that this soft top doesn’t perform as well as others, nor does it provide the quietest ride. Despite these negatives, we think it’s an excellent budget option. This model fits the Jeep Wrangler TJ, YJ, and JK.
- One-year manufacturer warranty
- The self-correcting zippers have a longer lifespan and run smoother
- No sunroof option
- Vinyl fabrics are not the longest-lasting
Best Value – Pavement Ends Black Diamond Replay Replacement Soft Top
For anyone who wants some of the Bestop quality at a more affordable price, the Pavement Ends Black Diamond Soft Top may be right for you. Pavement Ends is a Bestop brand, so you know that you’re getting quality similar to what you get when you purchase Bestop products. This product fits 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJs, and you receive a lot of bang for your buck.
This replay kit includes a fabric soft top, side and rear windows, and upper door skins. It fits any Jeep with an existing frame, though it’s important to note that no hardware is included in the kit. It’s made from fade-resistant fabric—a vinyl-coated polyester—that can handle lots of time in the sun. Plus, this tough material protects against rips and scratches.
It has removable windows (DOT-approved) with a 31 percent tint. The soft top is also heat-sealed, which provides critical protection from the elements, as well as robust, jam-resistant side zippers. It’s available in various colors and comes with a warranty.
Some reviewers find that this soft top is tight when it arrives, which might make your first install a bit tricky. Stretching it out beforehand can help make the process easier. It’s also not the quietest soft top, though that’s a common issue among these products.
- One-year limited warranty
- Excellent value for money
- Different color options available
- Arrives tight and may be challenging to install
- Makes noise
Honorable Mention (Budget) – Sierra Offroad Factory Style Soft Top
The Sierra Offroad Factory Style Soft Top came in a close second to Smittybilt for the best budget option. It fits the 1997-2006 Jeep Wrangler TJ, and there are many things to love about this soft top.
For one, it’s available in different colors: denim black, denim spice, and sailcloth black. The denim color matches Jeeps produced from 1997 to 2002, and the sailcloth color is compatible with Jeeps from 2007-2013. The material is made from marine-grade vinyl that resists fading, even if you keep your Jeep out in the sun a lot.
It’s durable, even if you are continually putting the top on and taking it off. It also has DOT-approved tinted windows, which look very nice, though some reviewers mention that they get hazy over time. The zippers are easy to use and durable, and the seams on the soft top are heat-treated to keep the weather where it belongs—outside of your car.
While you won’t get as many features as you would from a Bestop product, this budget option won’t let you down.
- Fits snugly
- Has heavy-duty zippers
- DOT-approved tinted windows
- You might have to make holes in a few places to install the soft top
- Windows may get hazy with time
Why Purchase a Jeep Soft Top
While there’s no more incredible feeling than riding around in your Jeep in the summer months with the wind in your face, there are plenty of reasons to purchase a soft top.
- Protection from the elements. You’ll probably need to drive in the rain at some point, which is pretty unpleasant without something to cover you. Not to mention, the rain could ruin electronic elements inside your vehicle. A soft top prevents water damage, and it also blocks UV rays that can harm plastic and vinyl materials in your car.
- Protection from thieves. Aside from protecting your car from the elements, a soft top protects against thieves. Most allow you to lock the zippers on the windows to keep them closed. And even if a thief knows how to remove a soft tap, doing so is obvious and takes time, which will stop a lot of opportunistic theft.
- Versatility. Because your mood (and the weather) is always changing, having a soft top that you can pop on or off makes your car much more versatile.
Hard Tops vs. Soft Tops
If you’re reading this article, it’s a safe bet that you’re more interested in soft tops than hard tops. Each kind has advantages and disadvantages, and which one you choose ultimately comes down to personal preference and driving conditions. We wanted to briefly discuss the pros and cons of each for anyone on the fence.
Soft tops have plenty of advantages. They are cheaper, easier to install and remove, and more portable than hard tops. They also provide greater versatility, given that you can put them on and take them off pretty much anywhere.
But soft tops do have some disadvantages. Because they are made of fabric, they typically have a shorter lifespan and are prone to rips and tears. They do a poor job of blocking out sound, and they don’t protect as much from the elements.
Hard tops offer lots of protection from the elements, most notably insulation in cold weather. You also don’t have to worry about rain, dust, or wind, either, and they provide a nice and quiet ride. Hard tops also last longer and allow you to store gear on top of your roof if need be.
They’re not without their downsides, however. The main issue with hard tops is that installation is more challenging—it typically requires someone else’s assistance. They also take up a lot of space if you need to store them, and they’re more expensive than soft tops.
Types of Jeep Soft Tops
Before you pick a soft top, you need to decide whether you want a framed or frameless version.
The soft-top type comes with a frame that attaches to the roll bar of your car. The structure becomes a sort of skeleton for the fabric, which supports the soft top’s weight. Frame materials are typically aluminum or some durable metal.
Framed soft tops are usually more expensive and weigh more than their frameless counterparts. They also take up more space in your Jeep because of the crossbars, though they are a sturdier option.
As you may have guessed from its name, a frameless soft top has no frame to support it. Typically, they include rails that attach to your car’s roll cage, which keeps the top in place. While they take up less space in your Jeep, they’re not the most excellent option for tough, extended use.
Key Features in a Jeep Soft Top
Of course, there’s more to choosing a Jeep soft top than deciding between frameless and framed models and hard and soft tops. Here are some other key features to keep in mind as you shop.
Finding the most robust material you can is perhaps our number one tip for getting the most out of your soft top. Because they’re made from fabrics, they’re more prone to rips and tears than hard tops are. This risk becomes more significant if you do a lot of off-roading or highway driving.
The two most common materials are sailcloth and twill. If given a choice, we’d recommend twill. And choosing thick fabrics and reputable brands is another way to ensure that the material is top-notch.
A rookie mistake is assuming that all soft tops are the same, but they are not a one-size-fits-all equation. There are many different Jeep models with lots of slight differences between them. If you don’t check for compatibility, you may very well end up with a soft that doesn’t fit your Jeep.
Ease of Removal
Even if you don’t plan to be putting the top on and taking it off frequently, ease of removal is another feature to pay attention to. How long does it take to install or remove it? Is the process straightforward? Do you need someone else to help you complete this process?
These are all vital questions to answer before deciding on a model. In an ideal world, putting on and removing the soft top should be simple and take just a few minutes.
Another critical consideration is what the climate is like where you live. If you live in a temperate or warm climate, you’ll probably use your soft top year-round, and you’ll need it to be as durable as possible.
On the other hand, if you live in a region with frigid winters, you’ll have to rotate between a soft top in summer and a hard one in winter. Ease of installation becomes an essential consideration in this case. However, if you only take your Jeep out a few times during the summer, you can get away with more budget-friendly options.
Soft tops are available with plenty of extras, such as fold-down sunroofs and removable windows. Do some research about standard extras and consider whether the added cost that comes with them is essential to you.
Though most soft tops’ lifespan is similar, you want to make sure that yours lasts for several years. Reading actual customer reviews is a reliable way of finding out how durable a particular model is, so we recommend looking at these before purchase.
If you’ll be swapping out your soft top for a hard one, storability is another vital factor. You’ll want to ensure that it’s easy to fold, and it should fit in a small space.
Finally, you may want to ask yourself what kind of style statement you want to make. Jeep soft tops come in many shades and designs, and while not a critical factor for function, style can help you stand out or blend in—whichever you prefer.
What many Jeep owners find helpful is matching the soft top to the style of your car for a cohesive look. You can do so either by using the same colors or purchasing the top from the same manufacturer.
How do you clean a Jeep soft top?
Cleaning a Jeep soft top is easy. All you have to do is rinse it with warm water, or you can use a rag with soap for a deeper clean. Be careful not to use excessive force if using the latter method to avoid damage, and stay away from Windex or ammonia or alcohol-based products.
It’s also a good idea to check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions before cleaning. Stick to their recommendations to ensure you’re cleaning your soft top in a way that promotes a long lifespan.
How long do Jeep soft tops last?
Jeep soft tops last anywhere from three to five years, depending on factors like the weather conditions and how well you care for them. Habits like parking inside and storing your soft top properly will help it last longer. But if you frequently park your car outside, especially in direct sunlight, its lifespan might be shorter.
How do I determine the correct fit?
The first step in figuring out whether a soft top will fit your vehicle is to know your Jeep’s make and model. Then you’ll have to check with the manufacturer to make sure the soft top you like will fit your car. Keep in mind that the market is geared mainly towards Jeeps from particular years, so some owners may find a limited selection.
Can I put a hard top over a soft top?
No, you can’t. It’s vital to remove the soft top if you want to use a hard top so as not to cause any damage to the soft top material.
Can I install it myself, or do I need to hire a professional?
Most people can install a soft top by themselves, though it may require a little time and effort. You’ll also need to have the right tools on hand. Otherwise, you can pay someone to install it for you.
How long does it take to install a soft top?
How long it takes to install a soft top for the first time depends mostly on your experience level. For someone with more experience, it could take somewhere around an hour. Beginners, on the other hand, will probably need a bit longer to complete the process—anywhere from two to three hours is normal.
Another factor that influences the length of installation is outside temperature. It’s best to install your new soft top when the weather is above 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures make the material more pliable, which makes it easier to get the soft top on your Jeep.
Finding the best soft top for your Jeep may feel overwhelming, but we hope this review has helped you narrow down your selections. As you’ve seen, there is a wide range of styles to fit all personalities and budgets.
To recap, we chose the Bestop Black Diamond Trektop as our top pick for its state-of-the-art design, advances in noise reduction, and excellent insulation. But the Bestop may not be right for you, in which case you may want to consider the Sierra Offroad Soft Top, another top-rated and long-lasting model. Finally, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, the Smittybilt Black Diamond OE Style Replacement Top could be an excellent choice.
Whatever your budget or needs, there should be an option that works for you on this list. Good luck with your search, and remember—careful research and consideration yield the best results.