Featured Vehicle: FozRoamer’s Subaru Forester

I’m sure it’s happened to all of us at some point in our backroad travels. You work your way down a rugged road pushing man and machine to the limits. Just when you’re about to pat yourself on the back for a job well done for conquering such a gnarly track, you see another vehicle at the end of the road. You can’t quite discern what it is at first. Is it a 4Runner? No, it can’t be…it’s a Subaru. 
In most cases the Subaru at the far end of a bumpy road is bone stock, but as Suby popularity grows, more owners are modifying their daily drivers into something superlative. Take for example FozRoamer’s Forester. I first caught a glimpse of it at this year’s Overland Expo in Flagstaff. After a brief chat with the owner I decided we needed to feature this one-of-a-kind Subaru. I could tell you all about it, but I think it’s better to learn about it from the man who created it. Without further ado:
My name is Harley, but a lot of people within the Subaru and overlanding communities know me as FozRoamer. Many of those people ask me what the name actually means.  “Foz” is Subaru slang for a Subaru Forester and “Roamer” is pretty self explanatory. My vehicle is a 2010 Subaru Forester XT (turbo).  I purchased the rig slightly used in 2012 because I was in an accident that totaled my Nissan Xterra. I was looking for something capable that could get my girlfriend and I to the trailheads for anything outdoor related whether it was backpacking, hiking, camping, etc. I chose to go with the Subaru Forester because I wanted a comfortable daily driver while at the same time something with decent road manners that could get us into the backcountry without much hesitation.  I had the car for about 4 years before I really started to modify it.
As we would go on trips it seemed we were venturing far off the beaten path and wanted to be self-sufficient in the meantime. My main thought process while building this project was to be self-reliant in every regard. My partner and I tend to do more solo trips so being self independently prepared was key. I wanted a vehicle that was a little more capable on the trail, able of self-recovery, and one that offered a little bit more in regards to creature comforts for car camping. It needed a fridge, solar power system, sink, and a kitchen setup. Everyone has their own meaning of these things but I have found as I get older the more comfortable I am in the backcountry the more likely I will continue to be involved in the outdoors.
As I began to build my project I was finding it quite challenging to find proper off-road and overlanding modifications for my vehicle platform. This is when I started to document the build on my blog and through social media. I knew there had to be other people out there interested in adventuring in this type of vehicle and would find the information I have provided helpful. I really embraced the challenge and wanted to build and work with what I had.  I could have easily traded this in for a Land Cruiser or 4Runner but where would the challenge be in that?
I wanted to build something truly different and inspire others to do the same. I began with the basics like new off-road tires, lift, and recovery gear, and it went from there. As we started to take more off-road-centered  trips and really going through tougher terrain, I wanted to make sure my rig was up to the challenge. I was always pushing the limits of this build and found that Subaru’s AWD system had rarely let me down. Some of the trails I have done in this rig have surprised me while at the same time surprised a lot of hardcore off-road-centric drivers. Notable trails include Indian Jeep trail (Sedona, AZ), Bald Mountain Trail (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TUnQiQ6hWg), and Lippincott Pass.
The greatest thing about this build is the people I have met along the way. My overall thanks and gratitude goes out to everyone who has helped me and seen my vision on the path that I was trying to go. Doing a build like this has been full of ups and downs, smiles, and cries. There have been many times where we thought something would work but we had to go back to the drawing board to rethink design and product execution. It has opened many doors and I would not trade all of the bad times I have had with this build in a million years. I have learned so much in the time I have put into making this rig more capable, functional, and dependable while going on adventures.  – Harley

Christophe Noel is Expedition Portal's Editor and the Senior Editor for Overland Journal. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.