I stopped by to chat with Chris @ Spiderweb Shades while at Jeeptoberfest and picked up a 4dr Ultra Mesh top to review for them. Now originally I wasn't going to get one of these when I first saw them at Jeep Beach, but not because its not a good product, but rather I was set on getting the full cage netting from Safari Straps. Then I sat and spoke with Chris more extensively during JeepersDen's Fall Sale/Open House a few weeks ago. At that point I decided I would give their Trail Mesh a try until I could afford the Safari Straps, unfortunately with the growing popularity of these tops, Chris was running low on the Trail Mesh for the 4 dr yesterday hence my review of the Ultra Mesh.
One of the first things you will notice is how small and self contained this top is to store when not in use. Straight from Chris it is about the size of a roll of paper towels and about the same in weight. Rarely will you need to store it though as it can be left on and in place with your soft top. Hardtop user, I'll let you know in the 1 month review, but initially looking, it appears we'll have to detach the front and fold it back over the rear section and re-attach to provide clear access to all the cranks and what nots that goes into securing the Freedom Panels.
*EDIT* I spoke with Matt again about leaving the shade in place with a hard top and I'll edit it in when I throw the Hardtop back on. The short answer is yes you can leave it in place!
Chris and the guys threw it on in like 10 minutes while I got distracted into a discussion about my Trailhead Trailer. So it wasn't till I got back home that I kinda tinkered with it to see just how and where they tied it to the cage. First off, tied is't the proper word, its simply strapped to the cage using specially sized tarp straps (the ones with the loop & ball) that they cleverly call Spiderballs...
This is one of the best features because as straps wear or loose their tension, you can simply replace them without replacing the whole shade.
The 4dr has 11 strap points; the 4 corners, 3 front footman loops, and 4 mid bar area. Start with the front corners, pull the strap up through the grommet so that the ball will be on the inside of the Jeep, loop it over the side bar just past the plastic molding, once you have it attached you can slide it over and hide the ball behind the molding. Repeat for both corners.
Next wrap the rear straps around the rear bars just past the cross bar joint and under the rear seatbelt pivot attachment.
Now using the smallest Spiderballs, attach the shade to the three footman loops on the windshield frame.
Next comes the 4 mid bar straps, these are more of "place as needed" straps as you need to place them where you can work out any excess flapping. A decent rule is to place the front mid straps as close to B pillar as possible while the rear mid straps should be around where the top back corner of the door sits.
Again, adjusts these locations as needed to take out any side slack you may have. Then.......well there is no then, you're done! Be cool and enjoy the cooler trail ride!
24 hrs: Well so far I'm liking this and even though I originally wanted the Trail Mesh, I think the Ultra Mesh will grow on me. It definitely does exactly what its supposed to do, as soon as I climbed in, the interior was cooler. Even after the Jeep sat out in direct sun for several hours while I mingled about the event and later got in to run a course, it was still cooler and things like the steering wheel and shifter where not even hot. The next thing I like about the top is with the door surrounds on, you can't even see the top from the front or sides. On the drive home I drove at about 75 and there was a noticeable reduction in wind noise compared to full topless and despite a reasonable flapping in the area directly over the Soundbar, there was no annoying noise from it.(see video below). Chris includes a pair of grommets where the Hardtop is secured with the hand bolts. So the easy solution for me is to simply stop by Home Depot or Lowes and find a set of nuts and washers the will fit the hand bolts. Again this is just me "tinkering" with the design and not something every owner needs to do. Unless something drastic happens, I now see myself keeping this top and simply running the rear cargo netting from Safari Straps to keep the dogs safe and secured. Thanks again Chris and everyone @ Spiderweb Shades!
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