Growing up, you probably heard a grown-up teach you the golden rule of wilderness hiking: be prepared. If something went wrong, you had to make sure you had enough food and water, packed enough clothes, and, most importantly, had a first aid kit.
The same goes for wilderness exploration as an adult, except that it's not just us who may get hurt. It's one of our Subarus. Alternatively, you can hike back to civilization and leave your painstakingly modified Subaru behind. That's why off-roading adventures require you to protect your vehicle.
Choosing the Right Tires
Typical all-weather tires won't do the trick when you're adventuring off the beaten path and encountering slick mud, sharp rocks, and other obstacles. Off-road tires are bigger and have different tread patterns that are specifically designed to handle rough terrain. For example:
- A wide range of uses can be met by all-terrain tires, which have an open tread, thicker side walls, and softer rubber.
- In snow tires or winter tires, sipes and grooves dig into the snow and then release it from the tire, preventing accumulation of snow and ice and allowing for better grip in these slippery conditions.
- Mud tires have wide tread blocks with deep gaps between them to allow for better traction in slick, wet, muddy conditions.
- Rock and off-road tires have reinforced tread walls which strengthen their ability to perform in heavy, rocky conditions and prevent potential punctures (similar to mud tires).
In addition to improving off-road performance, wheels and tires can dramatically change the esthetics of your Subaru–giving your car an aggressive, off-road look.
Having the right tires can help you avoid getting stranded and prevent your vehicle from slipping out of control and crashing. Finding the best tire for your driving needs should be a top priority.
Adding a Lift Kit
A suspension lift is used for a variety of reasons. When the vehicle is raised, your field of vision increases which improves safety and off-road capability. A lift kit allows space to install bigger tires that will better suit your off-road needs. Adding a suspension lift will also allow you to clear bigger obstacles and protect the undercarriage of your Subaru. And, of course, your Subaru will take on a more aggressive look–sending the message you are a force to be reckoned with on the road.
Take a moment to imagine driving over a serious obstacle while off-road. Your approach angle is correct and you're confident you'll be able to clear it. As you nearly finish your attempt and roll to the other side of the obstacle, you suddenly realize you didn't consider the breakover angle. A few inches of coil spring lift is the difference between successfully rolling over the obstacle with enough clearance and having your Subaru’s underbody ripped apart. A suspension lift upgrade will give your rig the capability of taking on far more aggressive terrain and help alleviate concerns of damaging your vehicle. Options for lifting your Subaru are:
Skid Plates are a Must
Off-roaders don't always make the right decision about breakover angles, even when they're experienced. Subaru skid plates provide insurance against these situations. These undercarriage skid plates are useful for both off-road and on-road applications to protect your car from rocks that might be a little bigger than you anticipated, flying road debris, and unexpected road hazards on the highway.
There are a few types of off-road skid plate options. It’s usually a good idea to replace your OEM plastic and/or thin metal skid plates with heavier duty aluminum skid plates.
- Front skid plate
- Transmission skid plate
- Differential skid plates
- Gas tank skid plates
Rock Sliders Should be High on the List
A rock slider is a bar or platform, like a side step, that attaches to the underside of your Subaru to protect the sides and undercarriage from rocks and stumps. As well as providing protection, rock sliders are also useful for working your vehicle around obstacles and providing a step for getting in and out of your Subaru. Rock sliders not only provide great body protection, but they also look awesome!
Beef Up Your Bumpers
It's time to look at the rear and front bumper of your Subaru when off-roading. Preparing your vehicle for obstacles with car bumpers can be the difference between large or small repair bills. There are many types of bumpers, from simple tubular-shaped aftermarket bumpers, to brush guards, to heavy-duty grille guards. Your Subaru has a lower chance of being damaged and totaled from front or rear strikes when you add bumpers.
In addition to the protection that heavy duty bumpers provide, off-road bumpers come in handy for recovery as well. Many off-road bumpers allow for an electric winch to be mounted and installed in the front bumper, which can be a lifesaver when you’re stuck in a precarious situation. For a Subaru winch, we recommend the Warn Winch Axon 55.