People used to turn their Subarus into wanna-be rally cars. Now, it’s wanna-be overland rigs. Good news! Subaru will now do it for you in the Forester Wilderness. The Drive has a good write-up about it. It’s taller, beefier, and can tow more.
My concern, though, is for the transmission. Subaru CVTs have not proven to be all that reliable. Many people I know have had problems with them. The Wilderness package doubles the Forester’s towing capacity from 1,500 pounds to 3,000 pounds. It does get a transmission cooler, which will help. I foresee it being an item that many Forester owners will retrofit to their own cars, as well as any other models it’s compatible with. Maybe that’ll help cure some of these problems.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the Forester Wilderness is a true overlander, or a fauxverlander.
One phrase I learned while I lived in Maine was the term “upta camp.” That’s where hunters go plunk themselves in the woods for a week or two, drink beer, swap stories, and occasionally take a pot shot at a deer, moose, or whatever else they have a permit to hunt. It’s popular to take old campers or RVs “upta camp” and just leave them there year-round as a ready-to-go shelter for all your “upta camp” activities.
Outside Van has crossed this lifestyle with the camper van craze to create the Launch Pad, a luxury camper van built specifically with hunters in mind. It has all the usual camper van amenities, plus features like gun storage and off-road capability that hunters will find useful. Motor1.com has more.
Say what you will about Subaru’s rust issues and disposable head gaskets. They’re also tough. And not just WRX rally cars. John Frana and Ryan Brumund just ran their mildly modified Subaru Outback (the old Legacy-based wagon, not the modern SUV) in the Best of the Desert race — and finished. Dead last, but hey, they finished! Many off-road-built trophy trucks and UTVs can’t make that claim.
Some people spend thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars on top notch van builds, skoolies, box truck conversions, and so on. You can do that, but you don’t have to. Here’s a Subaru Forester that’s been turned into a simple home on wheels.
Full disclosure: I’m a Vancity Vanlife fanboi. One of the reasons I like Chrome is that despite having a fancy schmancy van build, he never forgets his roots, and always remembers where he started — in a bare, empty cargo van with plastic bins, a cooler, a basic bed, and little else. He’s been a huge influence in my own van life journey, even though I’ve done some things very differently than him. Both of us agree, though, that you don’t need a fancy built-out like you see all over YouTube to, as Amanda Zito says, “get out there and do the thing.”