DMOS regularly features our pro customers whose work and adventures are exemplary of our “get out and get after it” ethos. This edition is a bit different. It’s the not yet been told real life adventure story of our founder, Susan Pieper, and how DMOS came to make shovels and gear that is always at hand and never in the way.
Back in 2015 when we started DMOS, DMOS made the Stealth shovel as a purpose-built tool for moving volumes of snow quickly in the backcountry. We wanted the shovel to have a larger and thicker blade and a longer handle than any shovel and yet still be portable. We placed teeth on the Stealth shovel so that it could cut through concrete like snow (that usually occurs when snow has high water content). For most of 2016, we focused our sales and marketing efforts on the snow sports space and didn’t market the Stealth shovel at all in the summer. At the time we didn’t see any use case that made sense based on my scope of experience.
Around that time, a friend of mine had a ranch in rural Wyoming, just northeast of Dubois, WY. I would go offroading with him, venturing at least 20 miles out, riding on forest service roads on the Shoshone National Forest, north of the Wind River Range. I loved being able to explore remote and wild places, and luckily enough my bone stock 4Runner TRD Pro had the right suspension and tires to do so.
Wyoming is known for its unpredictable weather (it can snow in July for example), but when summer finally hits, within the area surrounding the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem you can normally count on dry roads, as all the snowpack has melted out and peak runoff has already passed. This is the time of year we live for.
The weekend of July 17, 2017 was a particular weekend in which I had attempted to pack up my 4Runner with tools, a cooler, tent, sleeping bag and pad, folding chairs and table, fly fishing box, bike and bike backpack, water bottles, and of course a duffle with some clothes for the week. As usual, I was pretty over-packed and none of the gear was properly “locked and latched”. After loading the last piece of gear, we came to the realization that we’d be on rough roads. The last thing we wanted was stuff flying around in the back, so we unloaded all of the gear - including my DMOS Stealth - and set out with only water, bikes, food, change of clothes, and bike repair gear.
My friend and I decided to go for a drive to Ramshorn Peak where we had an idea we would hike a bike up, then ride down (crazy plan but all good adventures start with a big idea!).
Everything was fine and fun as it always is before “sh$t hits the fan” and we were enjoying a great conversation and the two track rough, ungraded forest service roads which over time, have gotten pretty rough from the big horse trailers and trailers with ATVs/UTVs that people pull in with trucks and drive on wet roads.
After about 16 miles into our journey, we came around the corner to where I didn’t realize that the terrain had shifted from dry dirt and rock on the sides, to green bushes. Not paying much attention to the change in terrain, still chatting away (as I am known to do) , we drove into mud and felt stuck immediately. Quickly I stopped the vehicle intending to quickly back out, or so I thought.
Well, backing out wasn’t an option as the 4Runner, at 6300 pounds, sinks pretty fast. We tried 4WD at low gear, attempting a rocking motion of going forward and back, and just kept sinking deeper into mud.
At this point, all I could think of is that I had wished I had my Stealth Shovel, as we needed to move the top mud. Mud was being spring fed and forming a big puddle. What we should have done was dammed the water and dug down to drier soil and rock, but we did not have a shovel with us. We attempted to utilize all options available to us from our floor mats, our water bottles, and yes, our hands.
I rode to high ground about a half a mile away and had to call Mike at Bull’s Conoco for a tow. I didn’t do a good job explaining exactly where we were or else as I learned later, Mike would not have come out as he didn’t want to risk his truck getting stuck as well. The moral of the story, and $600 and a tow later filled with humiliation, I realized how important it was having DMOS always at hand.
Since then, we started marketing our shovels as essential recovery gear and went to our first Overland expo in 2018, selling shovels out of the Author and Exhibitor tent, and later signed up for the 2018 Rebelle Rally.
Fast forward to today, we’re in pro builds in which we are chosen to be the recovery gear of choice, by people who want their rigs to be awesome, and to design them to be compact, versus carrying a full sized hardware store shovel.