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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings, I'm Jim.

In my intro I posted that I'm helping my oldest son and his wife prepare this 2015 XT Touring for a 6 month or so trip to South America, Eastern Europe, and Africa. I haven't yet begun my research in earnest, and I expect I'll need to do a lot of that before we decide on which modifications and parts are appropriate, but I thought I'd introduce myself and throw out some of the issues I'm exploring for your amusement and consideration.

After considering vans, campers, towing a trailer behind the Forester, etc., we're leaning heavily towards a popup tent mounted to the top of his Forester as the least expensive and potentially most versatile arrangement. His budget is limited by not shoestring; let's call it shoestringish.

While you, or I, might go deep into making the Forester off road capable, that direction doesn't fit into his plans for bugetary and other reasons. While discussing capabilities he wrote me, "...I don't have unlimited budget and I'm not trying to build a super Offroad machine. Just a moderately capable car that has been lightly transitioned to be able to live out of." So that's the mission statement in a nutshell and the one I've sworn to follow.

One of the first issues we're tackling is what to do about a spare. We're looking at external mounts, which are heavy and expensive, possibly placing it behind the seats, which takes up a lot of room that could be used for gear, or placing a full sized spare in the tub where the narrow (R17x145 vs R18x225) spare is stored. So far I'm advocating for the full size in the spare tub approach because it's cheap, doesn't require an additional 100 lbs of hardware (class III hitch and tire mount), and the tire is protected from theft. The spare doesn't necessarily to be 225 width; it suspect 215, 205, or even 195 width tires will be adequate as a spare, and we're looking into that possibility as well.

The next issue I'll be looking at, and why I'm in this forum, is what will be required to handle the addional weight of the overhead tent, cooking and camping gear, and whatever else is needed for half a year on the road. At a minimum, and given my son's mission statement the minimum may be all that's required, he'll need higher capacity rear springs. Lift, if any, isn't necesary, but he also won't want to give up any of the clearance he has empty, so higher rate and/or longer rear springs will be required. That should be straight forward once we know what weight he expects to carry, what the present spring rates and lengths and suspension motion ratios are, and what springs are available on the aftermarket. I use Swift springs on my own project cars, but those are different animals.

We're also looking at tires, and specifically tires which are tougher than what's normally mounted for the poor roads he expects, but that fit the car without clearance issues. Most of which are availible have a single outer casing ply, which probably won't inspire confidence in Africa. Suitable offroad capable tires, with thicker casings, may or may not be available in sizes that fit without modification; I just don't know yet as I've not yet done much reading on that particular issue, but I will do so soon.

Of course there's lots more to research. Will he need higher temperature brake pads? I don't know, but depending on the loaded vehicle weight it might not be a bad idea. His car takes premimum gas, which he doesn't use now and will be non-existant in 95% of the places he visits, so there's an important issue that may be a problem depending on how well the Subaru ECM handles detonation. There will be lots of other questions once we begin this project in earnest, but these are the openers.

So, I'm looking forward to helping my son with his project and equally so to hearing from those out there that have faced similar challanges. Thanks all!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I found what I think is a viable solution to the spare tire problem in the "confirming-full-size-spare-will-not-fit-space-where-spare" thread in the tires and wheels section, which I am not yet permitted to link having only two previous posts :crying:. My son agrees, and rather than making a close-but-no-cigar fit work by going a bit narrower, say to 215 width, he's for raising the storage deck instead. Experimental fitting will follow... Anyway, as my son says, if not quite solved we at least have a path to a solution. I like that it costs almost nothing and saves 100 lbs south of the bumper.

As for the spring/weight issue, King makes a set which is reportedly 20% to 30% higher rate than stock springs, which actually sounds about right, and Ironman and RalliTEK have theirs as well. I'm sure there are others, and I intend to find them before attempting to seperate the wheat from the chaff, but so far I'm leaning towards King if for no other reason than I've not heard anything unfavorable about them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I’ve looked at brake pads, and in particular two well regarded high performance street pads; the Hawk HP-S 5.0, and the Porterfield R4-S. It appears both pads are available for the Forester. Anyone have any thoughts on these, or other suitable alternatives, for a heavily loaded Forester traveling steep mountain roads?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yakima SkyRise HD tent ordered and on the way; photos to follow.

It’s very likely that the Forester will be loaded to its maximum rated capacity, which I believe is 900 lbs. Based on weight and anticipated mountain road driving, it looks like the Porterfield R4-S brake pads are the best overall choice. They should run around $260 shipped for a set of four.
 

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G'day & Welcome Jim.

My Foz does get heavily loaded and has completed much of the "hard stuff" here e.g. Simpson desert and Cape York (Old Telegraph Track)

https://www.subaruforester.org/vbul...as-inspiration-773913/index2.html#post7385066

I installed rear drawers in my MY'03 and a full size spare underneath accessible as the drawers are hinged.

I can recommend DBA slotted rotors for good heat dissipation when heavy braking is involved. (I use TRW/Lucas pads)

King springs are very good and have never let me down; likewise with BFG AT tires; I run 21575R15.

Are they running a fridge?

I also found removing the rear seat base and using the area for storage handy with the seat back folding down to create a second storage level.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Kevin thanks for the welcome. There are some excellent ideas in that thread you linked, and I'll have my son check it out.

I think they're sold on the King springs, and that they're a very good idea. Unfortunately, the XT comes with 18" wheels for which there are very limited offroad capable tire choices, and the lowish profile tires that are required are another significant negative. I'll bring up the benefits of a change of wheels with my son; perhaps he can swap them for a smaller size with another Subaru owner.

I wonder if there are brake clearance issues in the smaller diameter wheels given he has an XT, that from what I understand comes with larger rotors than the other trim models. Looks like some more research is in order. Anyway thanks again Kevin, I appreciate your suggestions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
A quick google search suggests that the smallest diameter wheel size that will still clear the brake calipers is 17", but that still triples the offroad tire choices (3 vs 1) if he goes up one size in aspect ratio (60 to 65). With the smaller diameter wheel, and a 65 aspect tire, the BFGoodrich ALL-TERRAIN T/A KO2 becomes an option.
 

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I had 17" wheels for my winter package on a 2015 FXT touring. Worked like a dream. Wonder if getting a set of steel wheels might be a way to tone down the apparent value of the vehicle, as a possible safety measure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are they running a fridge?
Sorry Kevin, forgot to answer this...

Yes, they're planning on running a fridge. We haven't had the conversation yet where I tell him he'll need more than a Stinger 200 relay to isolate his auxiliary battery, and that he'll need fork over about $200 more for something a bit more sophisticated. Such is the price of cold beer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I had 17" wheels for my winter package on a 2015 FXT touring. Worked like a dream. Wonder if getting a set of steel wheels might be a way to tone down the apparent value of the vehicle, as a possible safety measure.
Hey Shredmo! I was thinking of that but convinced myself that quality 17" steel wheels either don't exist, or if they do, they'd be pretty expensive. But if Subaru supplied 17" wheels, and they aren't unobtanium, that's something to look into.

I'm presently looking into a set of 17" Crosstrek takeoffs being sold locally. The question I haven't answered is whether they will clear the hardware (brakes, springs, etc.) on the Forester given that Forester wheels have a 48mm offset and these particular Crosstrek wheels have a 55mm offset, which puts the rim and rubber a 1/4" closer to hard parts. Not having either the wheels or Forester at hand it's difficult to determine whether one will fit the other.
 
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