View Poll Results: Given that you have both, would you use a soft top or a hardtop

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  • Soft top with 5'10" headroom

    3 37.50%
  • Hardtop with 5'1" headroom

    5 62.50%
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Thread: Hardtop or Soft top on Malibu 185?

  1. #1
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    Hardtop or Soft top on Malibu 185?

    Hi Everyone,

    It looks like I will be buying a used Malibu 185 that comes with both the soft top and the hard top. It is currently set up with the soft top and has a slope back cover. There is no canvas that goes with the hardtop.

    As I see it the positives for the soft top are that it has more headroom (~5'10"), I could open it up on sunny days and having the slope back would be nice. The hard top would obviously be better for nasty weather, but I think it will only be about 5'1" from the floor so I'll have to crouch more when moving about. The hard top would be nice for holding onto for walking around to the bow and would also provide some storage on top for traps and things.

    I think it will be a few hours of work for a couple of guys to switch it over so its not something I would want to do on a regular basis and storing the hard top could also be a bit of a challenge.

    I'm just looking for some opinions of what people think they would prefer. I am leaning towards leaving it with the soft top for now and maybe switching over at the end of the summer to try the hardtop out...

    Thanks!

    WWunder

  2. #2
    Senior Member Whole in the Water's Avatar
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    I have had both and prefer hardtop as it doesn't mold, rip, fade, get stuck zippers and need to be replaced about every 5 or so years. Yo can also install stuff underneath it and on top of it as well as carry stuff on on it. It is also safer and drier when you have a big wave go over your bow/windshield (had this happen)! I would never go back to a soft top. My 2 bits.
    Long live wild salmon!!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member ReelSlim's Avatar
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    Hey Wwunder.......I bought a Malibu 182 new from Sherwood in 2003. I opted for the soft top for pretty much the same reasons that you have already mentioned. I was always going to put a radar arch on it but never got around to it before my next boat. Great boats for their size and very well built. Pm me if you have any other questions I might be able to answer for you.......Greg
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  4. #4
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    I had an 03 182 with the soft top. the headroom was nice with the full camper canvas when sleeping onboard but otherwise my vote is hardtop all the way.

    Greg, I recognize your boat because I bought it from you!
    Last edited by ratherbefishing; 02-13-2012 at 08:22 PM.

  5. #5
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    Soft top all the way, up if you want it, down if ya want it. Also have it designed higher so tall buddy fits under it or a REEL LONG LEGGED chick.

    Sunbrella is a great product, get heavy ML for front window and lighter ML. on the sides.

    HT

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input guys. On my previous boat, I found that it was exceedingly rare that I wouldn't need the top up for protection from either the rain or the sun so I think for that reason I am leaning heavily towards the hard top for the long term configuration. The soft top is in great shape and its already installed so I think I'll start with it and make the switch later in the season. I suppose if I do go with the hardtop I can have a camper canvas made for the rear cover with 6' of headroom.

    I would still like to hear any input from people that have hardtops on boats this size (malibu's, hourstons, DE's) and how the low height works for them.

  7. #7
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    I have a 17ft hourston with a hard top and I like it a lot. It is great for prawning because I have very limited deck space and I have used the top to load my traps onto so we can get in/out of the boat. You can also put the net up there when trolling.

    On the really nice days it would be nice to be able to drop a soft top and get some sun but during the wind/rain the hard top keeps us cozy where a soft top always ends up leaking and the wind can get through it at times.

    Another drawback is when your boating with low visibility it's nice to be able to open the soft top and look out over your windsheild. With the hard top if I can't see out my windsheild I need to either rely on my co-pilot or stick my head out of the side window. I had this experience a few weeks ago when my windsheild kept fogging and it was raining so it was a challenge to see floats in the water etc. If you have a heat source near your dash to de-fog the windows you won't need to worry about that but I don't have one.

    There are pros and cons of each if your only going to fish the nice weather during the spring/summer months I would lean towards a soft top. If your going to fish all year I would go for the hard top.

    As for the low ceiling height it is fine for me but passengers often crack their head on the roof if we hit a good wave (doesn't seem to happen to the driver who is holding the steering wheel) and more than one person has smashed his head ducking back into the cabin to grab the wheel. You'll get used to it, your friends will get a few bumps but they will also learn over time.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jockey View Post
    I have a 17ft hourston with a hard top and I like it a lot. It is great for prawning because I have very limited deck space and I have used the top to load my traps onto so we can get in/out of the boat. You can also put the net up there when trolling.

    On the really nice days it would be nice to be able to drop a soft top and get some sun but during the wind/rain the hard top keeps us cozy where a soft top always ends up leaking and the wind can get through it at times.

    Another drawback is when your boating with low visibility it's nice to be able to open the soft top and look out over your windsheild. With the hard top if I can't see out my windsheild I need to either rely on my co-pilot or stick my head out of the side window. I had this experience a few weeks ago when my windsheild kept fogging and it was raining so it was a challenge to see floats in the water etc. If you have a heat source near your dash to de-fog the windows you won't need to worry about that but I don't have one.

    There are pros and cons of each if your only going to fish the nice weather during the spring/summer months I would lean towards a soft top. If your going to fish all year I would go for the hard top.

    As for the low ceiling height it is fine for me but passengers often crack their head on the roof if we hit a good wave (doesn't seem to happen to the driver who is holding the steering wheel) and more than one person has smashed his head ducking back into the cabin to grab the wheel. You'll get used to it, your friends will get a few bumps but they will also learn over time.
    Thanks for the input. What is your floor to ceiling height on the hourston?

  9. #9
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    I have a 185 with the hard top. I went with the hard top because everyone that i know with a soft top never takes it down so i figured the ht would be the way to go. Its really nice in rough water having a solid top over you and i like that i can mount my vhf on it. Keeps it nice and high and makes it quick and easy to get to. It also doesn't drip or leak like some soft tops do. Just like jockey i find that the people i take out bump their heads alot but i'm used to it so it doesn't bother me. Works great for storing the net on also.

  10. #10
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    Sorry I don't know the ceiling height but I would guess it is around 5ft maybe even a little less. It's a low one for sure but my hull is from the 1970's most of the newer boats are taller than mine.

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