Nothing warms our hearts like a really hot build. In many parts of the country, the weather may not be conducive to serious outdoor fun anytime soon, but these projects—and the people behind them—give us hope. Hope that when the weather finally breaks again, we’ll have a superior vehicle of choice to take us over and through whatever stands in the way. So, whether its a big ol’ American pickup truck jacked six inches off the ground, a mean-lookin’ Wrangler on 37s that can crawl up the side of a building, or a Subaru Crosstrek equipped with an aggressive wheel and tire package, a roof top tent, and a lift—we can’t help but to get a little excited for things to come.
In case you just stopped reading, curled those brows, and did a double take at the idea of a Subaru Crosstrek build, think again because Scott Horner of Wernersville, PA is one cool cat with a pretty cool project on his hands.
“I looked at trucks, and realized how expensive they were, and wanted something with better gas mileage that still had outdoor capabilities,” Horner tells us. “I found the Crosstrek and wanted to boost the reasons why I wanted it in the first place.” Needless to say, he got to work. Immediately.
A Special Kind of Bond
It’s a simple, incontrovertible truth: people who drive Subarus, LOVE their Subarus. You don’t need to pry this information out of them, as the Subie Squad will happily volunteer it. And while the Crosstrek isn’t a particularly old and storied model, it’s gaining a solid reputation for value, dependability, and agility to perform in any condition. More recently, it’s beginning to garner fanfare in the ever-burgeoning aftermarket as an ideal vehicle to customize.
Just turn to Instagram for proof. Proud owners like Horner are pushing the Crosstrek culture mainstream. “You can have almost any car,” Horner says, “and if you do the right things to it, it can be cool.” The Crosstrek may seem like a niche corner of the aftermarket and comparatively, it is. But it’s a devoted group that’s in a constant state of growth, with an ever-growing online following that’s getting fellow enthusiasts connected. And more and more shops are starting to realize with full clarity: this is a market worth accommodating.
The value of online connectivity for this upstart community is not lost on Horner. “When I got the Crosstrek, I immediately joined the Facebook page,” he tells us. There are plenty to choose from but Subaru Crosstrek XV, with over 7,000 online members, stood out. “And I was already using Instagram, so I would just search #Crosstrek and just kinda stumble upon things that ignite my passion.”
Hashtag searches led to mutual follows and direct messages, which evolved into sharing ideas and swapping build plans with those just like him. Simply put, the Crosstrek community loves Horner right back.
Perhaps the first thing everyone notices about Horner’s 2014 Subaru Crosstrek build is that there’s a full-size Tepui Autana Sky 3 Explorer Series tent strapped to the roof at all times, an investment that gets regular use from friends who love to tag along for the weekend. For him, it’s all about being ready to tackle an adventure at a moment’s notice.
Although plenty of other options caught his eye, such as Freespirit Recreation, Expedition Overland, and CVT, the Tepui and its great features at a moderate price point best suited his lifestyle. The tent is secured to his roof by Yakima Core Bars, which connect to Yakima Timberline Towers via the Crosstrek’s rails. “Also, I have the hitch swing for hanging chairs from ‘the original Air chair,’ which is perfect for backing up to a campfire,” says Horner.
Additionally, “I bought a 40″ Optix Midnight series LED bar and a pair of side shooter amber strobe lights from ElementLED. The LED light bar will be mounted underneath the tent using Toyota Tacoma mounts that are drilled into the side rails, and the others will be mounted to the edges of my hood by the windshield on ADF ditch light mounting brackets,” says Horner.
Recently, and after wading through plenty of aftermarket choices like Anderson Design & Fabrication, LP Adventure, and Subtle Solutions, Horner decided on a 2 inch lift (2.5 in the rear—a standard practice when lifting a Subaru) from SubieLiftOz—an up-and-coming brand from down under. He liked the personal attention from this small Australian company and coordinated for the installation to be done locally at BN Imports in Shillington, PA. Horner also added slick, all-black 15” Black Rhino boxer wheels, which are slightly smaller than stock to fit a larger sidewall and ideal for off-roading, as well as some BFGoodrich KO2 A/T 215/75/15 tires.
In the near future, Horner is investing in Primitive Racing skid plates and a Baja Designs fog light setup as well.
Pushing the Movement Forward
These days, Horner and his Crosstrek build garner attention wherever they go. And while it’s still a work in progress, the improvements made by this Sherwin Williams store manager have already earned him the attention and respect of his peers.
This June, his vehicle won “Best Crosstrek” at the Subie Bash, an event held by Steve Moyer Subaru in Leesport, PA. His build received a lot of positive attention, and the Tepui setup is a big part of the appeal. The company may not have an official ambassador program as of yet, but Horner is the only enthusiast on the East Coast affiliated with Tepui. For him, it’s not about recognition or compensation. Connecting with like-minded enthusiasts allows him to tell his story. “I want to spread and share the Subie and Crosstrek love for the outdoors with the community, and aid other trekkers in their journey,” he said.
That commitment led him to becoming a full-fledged member of the Northeast chapter of MtnRoo, a group that describes itself as “a brotherhood of Subaru enthusiasts who love to keep their cars on the dirty side.” Recently, Horner joined MtnRoo for an off-road/camping excursion. “Got it muddy as hell, and it was perfect. All that’s missing now is even more trips,” says Horner.
Crosstrek Culture, an Instagram community with nearly 19,000 followers, is one of numerous pages that has showcased his build. This same community is responsible for Trekbox, which is a monthly subscription for Crosstrek owners. And Horner’s unique Crosstrek build is on the face of every coupon inside the boxes being mailed to other Crosstrek owners. To top it all off, his ride was featured on a Crosstrek-specific calendar from @offroadtrekking on Instagram. Flip back to October!
Not bad for a niche following—not bad at all.
Big trucks and beefed up Jeeps may still be the first build-ready rides that come to mind when we’re talking off-road ready, but the Subaru community has earned a mention in the conversation. They’ve settled into a comfortable space: semi-fringe outsiders with an ever-growing membership of hardcore devotees. And their passionate owners seem to like it that way. With a rabid following that grows bigger every year, Crosstrekkers are banding together on more forums, more trails, and into more shops to be modified.
With people like Scott Horner at the helm of Crosstrek builds and promoting their work so fervently, it would be unwise for traditional off-roaders to underestimate this group’s position in the marketplace. Because they aren’t going anywhere. Except wherever they want to.
If you’re intrigued by the Crosstrek movement and want to learn more, follow along with Horner on Instagram: @crosstrek_tent_living.