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Trailer Hitch and Roof Rack Recommendations for a 2014 Subaru Forester

Question:

We just purchased a 2014 Subaru Forester that does not have a trailer hitch. If we want to do a hitch bike carrier would we be best to install our own hitch that is not the subaru mfg recommended to avoid the problems Im reading about with those hitches? We currently have a 2008 Civic with a Thule top bike carrier but thinking we may want to switch to a hitch mount if we have to change anyway. Advice? We also like to carry a canoe but cant do both with the civic.

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Expert Reply:

An aftermarket trailer hitch will be much more versatile than the Class I Subaru trailer hitch and usually ends up costing you less money. Knowing what I do about that Subaru hitch I can say that if I had a 2014 Subaru Forester I would install an aftermarket hitch for sure for those reasons.

If you will be using the hitch primarily for a bike rack then you won't have to get the biggest, baddest hitch available. That is why I recommend Draw-Tite hitch # 36523. This is a Class II trailer hitch with a 1-1/4 inch receiver that will be perfect for a bike rack.

I don't know how many bikes you want to carry but with this hitch you can carry 1 to 5 bikes. I have included a link to all of the bike racks we carry that will fit a 1-1/4 inch trailer hitch. Just for reference if you were to put a hitch on your Civic you would be limited to 2 bikes because the Civic can only have a Class I hitch.

Your Forester is also a great option for carrying your canoe. For that you will need a canoe carrier. If your Forester does not have a roof rack (with crossbars that run side to side) and you don't want to spend a lot of money on one then you can use a foam block set up, # S65156. Basically the block have straps that will have to run through the interior of the vehicle to be stable. That is the trade off for the lower cost. Still a great option for infrequent use.

If your Forester has the factory side rails that run front to back but no crossbars AND you want to have a more substantial canoe carrier you can add crossbars. For the side rails it is tough to beat the SportRack roof rack # SR1098. The price can't be beat and the bars accept many styles of canoe carriers; more on that later.

If the Forester has what is called a naked roof (with no crossbars or side rails) then you can still add crossbars. Inno has a great in expensive roof rack option for this style roof using bars # INB117, feet # INXP, and fit kit # INTR128. Again the bars are compatible with many styles of canoe carriers.

Speaking of canoe carriers if you go with either of the roof racks above then the side loading Rhino-Rack Nautic, # RR570, or the rear loading version, # RR571, are great options. The cradles will snuggle your canoe's hull like a baby and tie down straps are included.

If your Forester has factory crossbars that run side to side let me know and I can make some additional canoe carrier recommendations. I have included some videos on the Inno roof rack and the Rhino-Rack canoe carriers for you as well.

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Michael H

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