How I Put Together the Moderate Stealth Softroader (2013 Subaru Forester XT)

This is the story and timeline of my former 2013 Subaru Forester XT Touring. We had named him Forrest. In the three years that we owned him we took him on several adventures.

I purchased my Forester in November of 2012 from Huffines Subaru Kia in Denton, TX. The first trip we went on landed us in the middle of Lake Travis west of Austin.

The first part I installed was a set of mudflaps from Rally Armor. What Subaru isn’t complete without a set of mudflaps? In the end I removed the rear mudflaps because they kept getting ripped off during our off-road excursions.

At around 18K miles I went for a set of more aggressive tires. After months of research to see what would fit, I went with a set of 235/60R17 Cooper Discoverer AT3s. Nobody had tried a set of these yet online, so I was the guinea pig to try them on an SH Forester.

We went to Northwest OHV Park to test out the tires with some friends. This place has become our home stomping ground and a popular location for a lot of my off-road footage.

The next item was a 2″ receiver hitch from Torklift Central and their Ecohitch hidden hitch line. I had planned to use this as a bike carrier but it ended up being a recovery point for the rear of the vehicle.

We returned to the OHV Park with a couple of coworkers. Tried out some harder sections of the park and took plenty of video.

It was end the end of 2013 when we formed the North America Off Road Subarus. It started off as Texas Off Road Subarus, you can still see it in the Facebook link. Our first Subaru group to venture out into Northwest OHV consisted of three SH Foresters. Shay had a white one and Dave had a green manual.

Dave took his Forester into what the Softroaders call the Boothby entrance(named after Dave).

It became one of my most popular videos for a while.

Took a picture after a recent ice storm that shut down the city.

Had some fun while we were driving around:

Received some recognition from Subaru of America after taking pictures in New Mexico during our yearly ski trip.

In January 2014, I found the need for a skidplate after driving across the many ruts of the OHV park:

I noticed the factory plate made contact with the ground several times during our January trip.

We ended up in Mino’s, a place that we shouldn’t have ventured into. I was surprised that we made it out in one piece:

I was able to sneak into Cars and Coffee Dallas caked in mud after that trip. Parked on the grass to top it off.

With the formation of the North American Off Road Subarus, which I will refer to as NAORS, we were able to set up our first Soft Road Meet. Spring of 2014 would be our first ever Spring Break Soft Road Meet.

In addition to getting a Primitive Racing front skid plate using the factory plate as side shields, I also used the factory tow eyelet in combination with a 3/4″ shackle as a front recovery point.

This was also when I filmed my most popular video of all time:

Highlight video from the 2014 Soft Road Meet:

Generations shot on the Raptor Hill, which is now underwater and probably nonexistent as of now.

Parked next to our friend Steven who comes to all of our meets even though his Forester is more street oriented than off-road.

The first Spring Break meet is where I also met the Forester guys Josh, Mike, Tugg, Ian, and Dusty.

James River Road in the Texas Hill Country. The wife and I did a half day trip in the Hill Country to check out some of the dirt roads. We will be back this year.

Spent a weekend in Austin for one of my cousin’s bachelor parties and ended up at Hidden Falls Adventure Park. We were only there for a couple of hours so all I got to explore was the radio tower. The rest of the time we were support crew for the rental ATV’s, who never made it to the tower because of a breakdown.

6th Street Downtown Austin early in the morning.

A couple of pics from our Summer Soft Road Meet 2014 which was a catalyst in the formation of the North American Soft Roaders.

Trip report from our Summer Soft Road Meet:

In the Summer Soft Road meet I met our current Softroaders members John, Ron, Kevin, Fernando, JD, and Tim.

Soft Roaders Turkey Meet where I met Nicole and Moju:

One of my favorite shots of Forrest taken by Josh.

Near the end of 2014 I made a highlight video for all of the adventures that I had taken Forrest on:

By 2015, I was representing two groups, NAORS and NASOR(North American SOft Roaders).

We received a little bit of snow in early 2015.

Received my Mall Rated AWD sticker from our friend at Rekleiner Graphics John Klein. He does all of our decals for both NAORS and the Softroaders.

Group pic from our Spring Break Soft Road Meet 2015.

Close up of me going down Rocky Balboa at the OHV park taken by Stephen:

Full trip report for the Soft Road Meet:

Mud is always tricky but it’s not too much of a problem for Forrest:

I remember one time a member of NAORS was in North Texas for training from California, so in two weeks we gathered a crew and met him up at our OHV park to take him on a guided tour.

This is Oscar’s SH from California:

Ron, Fernando, and John from the Softroaders going down a narrow fenceline trail, Oscar’s hidden in there somewhere:

A couple of changes came to the Forester in 2015.

After talking to Patrick from Anderson Design and Fabrication about his lift kit he was working on for the SH Forester, this came in the mail.

The postal service damaged the packaging so it sat around for a week until I finally received it. As soon as I got it I talked to a coworker about getting the spacers powdercoated. About a week later:

The kit included four strut spacers and a subframe spacer kit (not pictured) that lowers the rear subframe so that the rear tires do not hit the front side of the fender well when lifted.

Website to order Subaru lift kits from Anderson Design and Fabrication:

The results of installing the 2″ lift kit.

Before and after:

Seeing how much flex I could get before the back tire left the ground. At some point in time I removed the front sway bar entirely and disconnected the rear sway bar and zip tied it out of the way for more wheel travel.

Even before the lift, having the sway bars off kept my wheels on the ground most of the time:

We took a trip down to PINS(Padre Island National Seashore) to test out the lift in the sands of South Texas.

For Father’s day I picked up a set of 2002 WRX wheels in 16×7 +53mm offset.

I wanted a tad bit more clearance in the rear so I talked to Patrick about making a set of custom 2.5″ rear spacers for Forrest. I told the powdercoater to surprise me with the color.

Installed the new rear spacers.

Test fitting the new tire on the 16″ wheel. I went with a 225/70R16 Cooper Discoverer AT3. The diameter is 28.6″ which is only slightly taller than the 17’s, but my offset went from a +48mm to a +53. I had to make sure they fit before getting the entire set.

I took advantage of a tire certificate I received from Cooper Tires for representing their product.

Took some pictures after getting the tires installed at Discount Tire. Thanks to Koby at Discount Tire in Roanoke for his help.

The view from the rear sitting in the parking lot at work. Notice that my rear mud flaps are long gone.

Ground clearance measured in my garage from the skid plate, transmission, and rear diff, which measured at 11.5″, over 12″, and 10″.

Took it out to our local OHV playground to test out the new tires.

Took some video footage of the lifted Fozz in action.

The following videos show the rest of the guys that were with me:

Being lifted was awesome, I was able to drive over things that I had to go around before. And it did wonders for my approach and departure angles. The reason I call it the Stealth Softroader was because if you didn’t know how high a stock Forester was you wouldn’t know that mine was lifted.

We formed a convoy and drove to Oklahoma for our 2015 Summer Soft Road Trip.

Picture of the group at the Sun Dog Trails entrance taken by Josh.

Forrest is in there somewhere…

Got a little bit of mud and sand on the tires.

This is where the relationship with Forrest and me ends. The Summer Soft Road Meet 2015 was the last time we took him off-road. After 70K miles on the odometer, countless off-road trips, and being a commuter wagon for 3 years he had served us well. He now resides at a dealer somewhere in Colorado waiting to be picked up by the right owner.

I call it the Ultimate Softroader because no matter what the road conditions were, I could trust Forrest to get me through. We’ve taken Forrest through some trails he didn’t belong in and he did not complain and did his job. I would highly recommend a Subaru Forester if you were looking for a new Softroader to take off-road.

If you follow our blog, the replacement for Forrest may create a little hate if you’re a Subaru fan. I’ve been getting heat from both the Subaru side and the Soft Roaders side about the new ride, but it allows me to continue our adventures with the Softroaders and provide everyone with an account of our trips. And believe me, we still have many trips ahead of us!