HALF-DOORS ALL RIGHT

THE MOST VERSATILE JK HALF-DOORS YOU CAN BUY

4 Wheel & Off Road - - CONTENTS - Ali Man­sour BY EDI­TOR@4WOR.COM PHO­TOG­RA­PHY ALI MAN­SOUR

We built Bestop El­e­ment doors for a fraction of what OE ones cost.

WE RE­MEM­BER RID­ING in our first door­less Jeep. It was a red 1982 CJ-7 that was loud, tall, and ob­nox­iously dressed in chrome. We loved it. There was some­thing about that open-air cabin that got us hooked on Jeeps. While we will be the first to ad­mit that we like how much bet­ter the mod­ern Jeep Wran­gler JK rides and drives over the CJ, it defi nitely takes a bit more work to cre­ate that same open-air at­mos­phere. This is largely due to the full doors.

Don’t get us wrong. We are ac­tu­ally big fans of the JK doors. They of­fer great vis­i­bil­ity, se­cu­rity, and keep the cabin nice and comfy on the daily com­mute. How­ever, dam­ag­ing a full door on the trail is not a cheap mis­take. And with tougher trails be­com­ing the norm for our mod­i­fied JK, we have ea­gerly sought a good door al­ter­na­tive that would al­low us to leave our heavy and ex­pen­sive full doors at home.

This is ul­ti­mately how we landed on a Bestop’s El­e­ment doors for our JK. For us, the biggest draw to El­e­ment doors was that they could be out­fit­ted in a way that would make them more versatile than a ba­sic tubu­lar door.

With an avail­able en­close kit and up­per door pan­els, we found we could build an El­e­ment door set for the fraction of what an OE half-door kit would cost for our Wran­gler Un­lim­ited. This would mean we could drive to the trail with the ba­sic com­forts we have be­come ac­cus­tom to and eas­ily strip down the doors when we got to the trail head.

Af­ter a few months of wheel­ing and liv­ing with the El­e­ment door set, we were fi­nally able to of­fer a proper re­view.

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Re­mov­ing your stock JK doors only takes a few min­utes. Af­ter you un­bolt the two Torx­head bolts on each door, you will un­plug each door from the Jeep’s wiring har­ness. The plugs are lo­cated un­der the dash for the front doors and be­hind the B-pil­lar covers for the rear. We rec­om­mend rolling down your win­dows prior to pulling them off for ease of trans­port.

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If you are look­ing to sim­ply run the tubu­lar El­e­ment low­ers, you won’t have much work ahead of you. Af­ter drop­ping into the JK’s stock door post, you will in­stall the han­dle and slide on the door strap. There is even a bracket that al­lows you to re­use your stock mir­ror (Bestop re­place­ment mir­rors shown). 3

Ver­sa­til­ity and price made us grav­i­tate to­wards the Ele­ments doors. While we en­joy run­ning only the tubu­lar low­ers for cruis­ing the beach and around town, we opted to get the El­e­ment door en­clo­sures for longer trips and trail out­ings. Since steel en­clo­sures are de­signed specif­i­cally for the tubu­lar El­e­ment low­ers, they bolt on without is­sue.

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To latch the doors, Bestop pro­vides a keyed han­dle set that sim­ply bolts to the doors. We found that the in­ner door han­dle takes a lit­tle get­ting used to, but works fine. We are typ­i­cally run­ning without the up­pers on, so we of­ten just used the out­side han­dle to open the door. 5

Bestop uses seals that ad­here to the Ele­ments en­clo­sures. We found these work OK at keep­ing de­bris out, but don’t ex­pect them to seal like a fac­tory door.

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If you don’t want to has­sle with trans­fer­ring your mir­rors or want to keep your ex­pen­sive stock set out of harm’s way, Bestop of­fers a mir­ror set that bolts di­rectly to the El­e­ment doors. These late-model-style mir­rors ac­tu­ally work quite well and don’t rat­tle about like some af­ter­mar­ket mir­rors we have used in the past.

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The fact that you can add-on up­per win­dows to the El­e­ment doors was a huge draw for us. The black fab­ric up­pers use a clear vinyl win­dow, which can be eas­ily un­zipped.

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The up­pers slide di­rectly into the low­ers and can be ad­justed by two small set-screw col­lars mounted on the win­dow frame. We found that these took a bit of fine tuning to get them just right. Liv­ing in the South­east, we have plenty of sur­prise rain show­ers, so these have been a nice ad­di­tion for longer trips.

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We have be­come pretty speedy at tran­si­tion­ing from an open-air to an en­closed cab in a hurry. It is worth men­tion­ing that Bestop in­cludes a Vel­cro strips that at­tach at the top por­tion of the El­e­ment doors en­clo­sures. This is for the up­pers to stick to. We frankly didn’t like the way it looked and opted not to use it. This means our up­pers prob­a­bly don’t seal as well as they could, but it’s not some­thing we are overly con­cerned with.

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