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So, my wife and I just returned from a 2-week camping (trailer) trip across 8 western US states, and ~4000 miles total. (We returned 1 week ago today.)
And I think I've learned why the Forester has a lower rating in the US than in other countries.
This isn't meant to be a full technical tow report. For a technical report of a previous trip, see here: http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin/f137/maiden-voyage-tow-report-2900lb-trailer-1100-miles-mountain-pass-75565/

Here was our path (not listing all the stops):
Here's the 8 states we traveled in: Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Washington

From Oregon, we traveled East on I-84, through Idaho, into Utah, and joined I-15 South, down to Zion National Park.
We took a day trip without the trailer to the Grand Canyon (north rim). (That's how I'm including Arizona).
Then we went on up to Bryce Canyon NP, and on Hwy 12 (The "All-American Highway"), up to get to Arches NP (including short stretch of I-70).
Then on in to Grand Junction, CO for my cousin's wedding.
Then North through Wyoming to Grand Teton NP and Yellowstone NP.
Then up through Montana to the Idaho Panhandle, and finally back home through Eastern Washington.

Lots of great experiences on our trip, and learned lots of stuff:
1) If a National Forest camp ground I planned on (that takes RVs) is closed, don't just pick the one on the sign that happens to be open. It can be VERY difficult to turn around in a tent-only space, especially if there's another Subie (Outback) in the middle of it and the owner is not available. That was an interesting experience :shake:.
2) Southern Utah (and the Grand Canyon) are absolutely beautiful, more so than any picture can capture.
3) Arches NP can get VERY hot, at 103 degF and darn near 0% humidity. Especially when we witness a motorhome burn down to metal and ashes in our campground :icon_eek:.
4) Yellowstone is beautiful and fascinating.

5) And, I learned why (I think) the Forester is rated lower in the US than other countries such as the UK and Australia: Higher Elevations.

Neither Great Britain nor Australia have as high of elevations as we have in the Rockies.

We learned that, while in Oregon we can do 65 mph in 5th on a flat road, in Utah at 7,000 ft we struggled to keep 55 mph on the flat road.
Up minor inclines (going up the Grand Staircase on I-15), we found ourselves topping out at 45 mph. It's kind of disconcerting going 45 mph in an 80 mph zone :icon_rolleyes:.
Also, we were annoyed by the rolling hills in southern Idaho with the rolling hills. We'd go up a hill and slow down to 55 and then down the other side, barely making it back up to 65 before starting the next hill. Just annoying, that's all. That was also in the first days of our trip, so I might not be as annoyed now that I know the combination better.

Also, on Hwy 12, we went over a major mountain pass in the Boulder Mountains, at 9200 ft, with a 10% uphill grade. On that pass, we were down to 1st gear going 15 mph by the time we made it to the top (it did help the morale that the big motorhome in front of us was doing the same thing :biggrin:). We did have some extra power in first in case it were to get steeper or higher, but not in 2nd. We had other passes in the Rockies, but none that put us down to 1st gear (2nd, yes). In each one though, the motorhomes and trucks were going just as slow. We did see one motorhome towing an SUV that couldn't make it up and was stopped with flashers on.

Note, though, that through the whole trip we had no problems with overheating, despite the 100 degF temperature outside. However, without a temperature gauge (what were you thinking, Subaru?!?), I have no way of knowing how much the temperature might have climbed up.
I did notice that at the end of a long day of traveling, the car felt/sounded "tired". The next morning it sounded "refreshed". I'm sure that was probably temperature related. It was like it needed a break as much as we did at the end of the day :icon_razz:.

Oh, one more thing.
6) I learned, DON'T stop on a steep hill with the trailer if I can help it. Getting started again with the clutch is a challenge at best and downright scary at worst. I had to heavily feather the clutch several times to get moving on a couple of stops. I did improve and it got less scary as the trip went on.

BTW, I'm trying to be as forthcoming with our experiences so others can benefit from them. But please don't read me wrong, the Forester is a capable tow vehicle for this trailer. There was a bit of a learning curve to understand the limitations of this combination. But no complaints with handling or safety, or anything else besides the power at elevation. Also, because towing requires more attention to what gear you're in (reminder: it's an MT), my wife had some difficulty with the shifting. Going uphill, by the time she finished a shift we were going a full 5 mph slower. Not because she took all THAT long, but just because the trailer pulls down a lot. For these two reasons (power and shifting), we might look for an automatic with more power (maybe a small pickup) before we take our next trip of this magnitude (we're already beginning to plan :icon_biggrin:). The Forester will more than suffice for any shorter trips around the Pacific Northwest until then, though.
I should note, however, that I wouldn't feel nearly as comfortable with this trailer and its 300 lb tongue weight without the weight distribution bar, or without the Prodigy brake controller.
Also, I've seen no ill effects to the receiver hitch from using the WD bar. I haven't yet inspected the hitch thoroughly including checking the torque of the bolts since the trip, though. I'll do that sometime between now and the next time I tow.

As a side note, people have commented (on other threads) about how big our trailer is. I didn't realize until seeing some other popups during our travels that are maybe 4 ft high when folded :icon_redface:. Oh well, we really like our trailer, and have no regrets.

We had a really great trip too, and feel refreshed and ready for another year.
I have pictures (~2500 of them, lol), but haven't looked at them much yet, so nothing to post at this time.
 

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Thanks for sharing and it sounds like the limitations didn't bother you all too awfully much and all is well that ends well with your family, the Foz and trailer home safely. I always tell people that if they can only take one trip in the U.S. to make it the Rocky Mountains in the summer time.

Here's to the Rockies, R.I.P. J.D..

 

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well your main comment out of this seemed to be you would be looking at an automatic and a little more power, screams XT to me... sounds like an awesome trip though
 

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^agreed! It definitely sounds like an awesome trip...

It's pretty clear as to why they're rated lower here now though, but I'd imagine that driving through the Alps could have the same affect on things. Has anybody checked the tow ratings for say France, Switzerland, or even Germany and Italy?
 

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2009 Outback XT-B 5MT
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I never thought about elevation being the reason. Makes perfect sense. Mechanically, their cars are no different than ours. A kilogram there weighs the same as a kilogram here.
 

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Congrats on the trip & good to see you made it home safe.


joe r
 

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2010 Forester 2.5 x LTD
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As I probably said in previous posts, driving west between Denver and Vail through some of the hills, our little Scooby has to drop down and hang with the 18 wheelers and motor homes since it can't go nearly the speed limit up some of the passes.

Our heavy Mercedes c320 4-matic (6 cylinder) had no problems on the same roads and still got 25+ MPG. :(

So we've just learned to slow down and enjoy the scenery :)
 

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Nice report, and sounds like it was a great trip!

You're right: Road elevations and other conditions in the U.S. are big factors in determining towing capabilities. For an n/a motor, figure on an ~3% drop in horsepower for every 1,000 ft gain in elevation above sea level. At 10,000 feet, available horsepower will be down by ~30%.

Germany's highest elevation (the Zugspitze, way in the southeast on the Austrian border) is ~9,700 feet. Much of the country is fairly low elevation.

HTH,
Jim / crewzer
 

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2009 2.5X EJ253 Manual
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I thought the max tow rating for the Forester was 2400lbs? You were operating beyond the recommended loading specs.
 

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Roads trips are all about adventure. It wouldn't have been nearly as much of a challenge if you were towing with a Ford Excursion diesel. (Except for the breakdowns, of course!)

'04 FXT 5spd
 

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I live in a relatively flat country the United Kingdom. Our highest main roads are just over 2000 feet.

However as an avid reader let me assure you elevation makes quite drastic alterations to the fuel / air mixture. Read Robert Persig - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance. As they climb high up the mountains he changes the carburettor jets and needles to compensate for these changes. Unfortunately in this era of "black-box" control of mixture etc this is no longer possible. Maybe it never was for fuel injection I do not know, but certainly the reported Power Loss raises interesting questions.

Incidently my naturally aspirated 1999 FS5 comfortably pulls a lightweight 1350 pound u/l say 1600 pound laden trailer - not a pop-up.
 

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Glad I found your (for me) second informative and interesting narrative and comment. When I have the specs of your X Premium, I will try to make personal contact. You talk my sort of language. Weather I talk yours is another matter, Thanks martycon
 

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Good read! You were out in an amazing part of the country. Yellowstone is amazing. I've been twice along with several other NP's and it will always be my favorite.

Sounds like you would benefit from an XT. :icon_wink:
 

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Great trip and very good report!

My wife and I basically did the same trip last September but we stared and ended in San Jose, CA. Death Valley, Utah, North Rim of the GC, Tetons, Yellowstone etc. We tent-camped in our Foz but even though I wasn't towing anything I absolutely noticed the lack of power when doing 75MPH and having to pass another vehicle at higher altitudes.
I'm thinking of buying a teardrop trailer for future trips.
 

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Here's to the ROCKIES!, my No1 region to visit in the US, with its vistas, ever since I used to read a comic strip titled Rick O'Shay Great video compilation.
 

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So what are you thoughts on an 1100 lb trailer (unloaded ~1500 loaded probly less) without the use of trailer breaks
Depends greatly on your transmission, especially on descents. I fought off the expense and hassle of trailer brakes forever for my boat, but my decision to install them on my recently-acquired camper paid for itself in less than a week when I managed a panic stop about two feet short of a doe and fawn in the mountains.

OP, what a great adventure. I've lived in the shadow of the continental divide for ten years and the magic continues.

The overlooked converse of the loss of power is improved mpg, at least when you are not pulling a load. My mpg improves over 10 percent above 8500' with just the car, but I don't do any low-elevation trailering so I have no basis for comparison. I bet someone knows?
 

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I am hoping you can give me some help from your experience. I would like to get a weight distribution system for my car, but Subaru says not to. Have you noticed any bad side effects from the one you have? Which brand, model, etc do you have?

(I have an 09 Forester X. I am towing a 1500 trailer with a tongue weight of 250lbs). I have a lot of sag in the back. In your post, you mentioned Spring Boosters. Do they help a lot? How much do they give back in ride height?

Anyone have an technical suggestions that would help lift the back end up an inch or three?

I can not spend more than $600. I can not move the axle or redistribute the weight in the car or on the trailer. I really do not want to have to buy another tow vehicle... it would have to be a non-subaru truck.
Thanks everyone.
 
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