I live on LI as well. 3rd Jeep in the last 15 years. I usually change my tops in October, usually right before Halloween. As far as anything else, just make sure your fluid levels are where they should be. Enjoy driving in the snow, if we get any.
Hey, to each his own. We spend upwards of $50K on our Jeeps, what's another couple of hundred on a compressor and spending a few minutes on airing down and up? Every beach is different too, in Florida you can drive a Prius on the beach, up here we have a few beaches that are like sandboxes by...
I thought California Tops sold to Suntop. I could be wrong. I have the Suntop, not the best material. It's just like the old Jeep softop. That being said, it gets the job done, jeep stays dry. I bought the cargo top option which is what you were looking for, and a fastback.
Did you try one of these? I had the same mount in my JK and never heard a thing. Once you bolt that thing down tightly it really shouldn't rattle that much. I used that isolator and a mini bungie chord to eliminate any rattles.