By Harry Wagner, photography by Harry Wagner
For the uninitiated, “overlanding” is vehicle-supported exploration that can span from a weekend to several weeks. The goal isn’t to conquer the most challenging terrain, the point is to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and unplug. Standard thinking is that you need a hard top and a rack complete with a roof top tent to go overlanding, but we are here to challenge that convention. There are many times a soft top is actually more advantageous when out exploring.
Rather than have to climb over seats or piles of gear to access what you need, a soft top gives you easy access to all of your equipment. This is particularly useful in our long wheelbase, two door Jeep that doesn’t benefit from a second set of doors. With the rear seats removed we have plenty of room for gear to support two people for a week or more, and with a soft top we can easily reach all of that equipment. Just zip out the side windows and reach over the tub to access everything from freezer fridges and cooking utensils to recovery equipment and camping gear. Bestop windows feature top of the line YKK scoop count zippers for easy removal or installation along with extended surface heat-sealing for strength and protection from climate extremes.
Storing your gear under your soft top keeps it protected from the elements, reduces wind drag for improved mileage, and lowers your center of gravity for better maneuvering at speed. And a soft top is lighter than a hard top, which provides its own benefits with regards to fuel economy and handling. Not convinced that you can travel that light with the entire family? Bestop has teamed up with fellow Colorado-based outfitter Rhino Rack on a roof rack for the JK Wrangler equipped with Bestop Sunrider for Hardtop for those who want to pack their cake and eat it too.
Bestop’s latest generation of soft tops use components like premium 28-ounce multi-layer fabric that is durable to withstand branches as you explore that narrow trail and won’t ever rip thanks to the 135-gauge polyester industrial thread. Bestop’s modern rails don’t require any snaps and their tops utilize self-tensioning bows to resist flapping in the wind, even at freeway speeds. Today it is easy to carry on a conversation, and even talk on the phone, in a Jeep equipped with a soft top. Optional tinted windows keep your possessions discreetly hidden from view and help keep the interior of your Jeep cool when parked in direct sunlight.
Of course, the biggest benefit of a soft top on your Jeep is not unique to the overlanding world; it is the ability to have the wind blow through your hair while you drive down the road, no matter whether it is paved or not. There are many vehicles that make great overlanding platforms, but only the Jeep Wrangler has a removable top that allows your senses to experience the site, smell, and feel that nature has to offer. Just zip out the windows, grab a map, and leave your worries, and your hard top, behind.