Camping trips, tailgates and picnics involve lots of large, awkward gear. Kettle grills, large coolers, various boxes and tubs, and loose tables, chairs and awnings can be difficult to fit inside a vehicle and a pain to unload, piece by piece. A vowel-averse Texan startup called Stckbls has a way of streamlining the trip, offering a series of stackable BBQ-party cubes that save space and roll easily to your destination. Once there, the cubes keep food and drinks cold, grill dinner and store accompanying cooking tools.
The primary building block of the Stckbls system is the grill box, a 12,000 BTU/hr gas unit with roughly 290 sq in (1,870 sq cm) of cooking surface. Stckbls has developed both liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and butane versions, each relying on a stainless steel burner to deliver the heat. The grill body is built from steel and the grate from porcelain enamel cast iron.
With its cubic construction, built-in carry handles and 44-lb (20-kg) weight, the Stckbls grill already looks fairly convenient to transport. It'll fit neatly in the car, unlike grills with large, round bodies and lids, and it should carry around easily enough outside the car.
Where the Stckbls grill gets even more convenient is in Stckbls' greater ecosystem of modules. Stckbls has designed a 30-L cooler and a 22-L utility box that fit neatly together with the grill box. The wheeled cooler sits on the bottom and all three boxes roll to wherever you plan to cook, held neatly together by a tie-down strap.
Alternatively, each module includes handles and weighs no more than 44 lb (20 kg), so they can be carried individually. The grill measures 18 x 19 x 16.5 in (45 x 48 x 42 cm), and the other modules are a bit smaller.
When it's time to cook, you can split the boxes up or keep them stacked, using the grill at the top of the stack. Both the cooler and utility boxes have drawers to allow access to the food, drinks, condiments and grilling tools inside.
Outside of its messy consonant jumble of a company name, we like what we see from Stckbls. The system definitely looks like it should add some convenience while tailgating, camping and otherwise grilling out and about. And having loaded plenty of trunks full of non-stackable grilling and camping gear, we can appreciate the idea of neatly stacking a system of modules together in the car.
One drawback we do see is the limited cooler space. Based on some recent camping trips of our own, 30 liters seems like it could quickly become insufficient, at least for trips involving groups or multiple days' worth of food and drink.
Stckbls doesn't currently offer a standalone cooler option so there's no way of adding extra cooler space. Company co-founder George Mathew tells us that the cooler module needs to sit on the bottom of the stack because of its wheels, so you couldn't stack another even if they did offer it for separate purchase.
Stckbls is considering creating a non-wheeled cooler module, allowing users to add more cooler space to their own individual stacks. The grill and utility boxes are designed to be stacked up to four high, so assuming the cooler is sized the same way, you could have dual 30-L coolers, a utility box and a grill all in one stack, or even three coolers and a grill.
Mathew says that Stckbls plans to offer modules individually after its official launch (only the grill is available as a standalone purchase on the Kickstarter campaign). It's also planning some additional modules, like Bluetooth speakers and battery blocks.
Stckbls launched its Kickstarter campaign this week, offering a full stack package (the grill, utility box and cooler, plus a bottle opener) starting at a US$325 pledge level. The grill can be purchased alone at the $199 pledge level. Also available is a $149 roller cart that carries up to four modules and folds out into a cooking stand. If all goes according to plan, deliveries will begin in April.
While we definitely like the idea of a modular grilling/utility/cooler system, the pricing seems steep, especially when jumping from Kickstarter super early bird levels to estimated retail prices – $480 for the full stack and $300 for the grill alone.
There are many price levels for both grills and coolers, but it won't take much shopping time to find a much lower-priced combination of (larger-sized) wheeled cooler, grill and cargo box. They might not fit so neatly together, but we imagine you could find a much cheaper combination that'll get where it's going easily enough. So the question becomes, is that neat, modular convenience and streamlined design worth the added price?
We'll see how Kickstarter answers when the campaign winds down in about a month and a half, but so far the response has been tepid. You can see the Stckbls pitch video below.