Sometimes Facebook and their creepy algorithms help us more than we could know. In fact, I was able to find out about Trail Kitchens (https://trailkitchens.com) on Tuesday. By Friday, we were meeting Hans & Nick at the shop in Truckee. And, by the end of the day, our new King Charles Chuck Box was a new part of our own trail kitchen.
Trail Kitchens makes all sorts of products for the #overlanding industry. Their King Charles Chuck Box was the item that originally captured my eye with a Facebook sponsored ad. But, visiting their shop, I learned that the King Charles is just one of their many products available. Their modular products help facilitate organization, adaptability, and help build an overland vehicle piece by piece.
Living in the Sierra Nevada means that we have to endure some crazy, cold, winters. My Chinook Baja taught me that plumbing wasn’t always a blessing. I either had to “winterize” my pipes or keep the heat high enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Imagine if it was possible to remove your plumbing for the winter and put it back in when the weather warms up. Well, Trail Kitchens has a product to adress that need, as well as creating the indoor/outdoor cook area.
The Modular Van Kitchen
When I first saw this product in Trail Kitchens’ showroom, I knew that this would be an integral part of my next build. We love the modular nature of our AT Overland Habitat. But, sometimes we have to learn from our builds and take it to the next level. I hope to continue this modular adaptability when we have our next (r)evolutionary build. And, that will most likely see us in a van, bus, or a different type of 4x4 RV.
The modular Van Kitchen has all of what you may want and nothing that you don’t. The stove and kitchen box remove easily from the water base station with two pins. This lets users decide if they want to cook inside or out. Sometimes, weather is a deciding factor that supersedes our wants. And, this lets users make a quick bite or cup of tea when the weather may be less than forgiving. Then, once the weather breaks, move the stove outside, extend the legs, and enjoy dinner al fresco. The stove is more than powerful enough for your needs. There are two 20,000btu burners that can bring water to boil in a matter of minutes. But, they can also work well when it’s time to simmer.
So, the stove definitely has it’s awesome features. But, what about the sink/faucet/sprayer? Well, the water station doesn’t have a hard-sided water tank. It has two soft-sided bladders that are easily removable when the thermostat dips below freezing. These bladders are underneath the area where the stove mounts and plumbed up to the faucet/sink combo. This makes it possible to easily transition from winter to summer and back. That’s what makes an adventure vehicle work, the ability to go anywhere easily without too much effort involved.
Another advantage of this setup is the ability to connect it with one of their hot water heaters and create an outdoor shower. The faucet/sprayer has an extended hose to reach outside the vehicle for a refreshing rinse. Their entire setup is relatively compact and can fit a variety of builds. This product will definitely be on my list of accessories for our next vehicle. Unfortunately, it was just a bit too big for our Habitat setup.
King Charles Chuck Box
This is the product that originally caught our attention. And, we also knew that we could adapt this product to any future builds. Remember how I mentioned Hans and Nick earlier. Well, Hans was my point man that arranged our meeting. And, Nick was actually putting the finishing touches on our King Charles when we showed up.
The King Charles Chuck Box was going to replace our Ozark Trails soft-sided, zippered, aluminum table top, kitchen organizer. We wanted a bit more organized, durable, and easy in/out setup. The Ozark Trails organizers are great for handling loose items. But, our utensils would disappear in there like it was a black hole. The King Charles had a sliding drawer that would help alleviate the disappearing act. Plus, it had a space on the bottom to safely hold our Camp Chef Everest stove.
Our first impression was that the build quality was far superior than our Ozark Trails. Tammy had taken a fall moving the Ozark Trails organizer and the plastic corners basically exploded. The accordion style aluminum table and nylon case held strong. But, we lost the use of the extended legs when the replacement parts arrived. And, we got used to using it in conjunction with another table, like the King Charles is designed to do.
The King Charles is made of stainless steel, aluminum, and composite materials. These materials were far more durable than the plastic corners of our other organizer. The latch secured the drop down door. And, the stove fit snugly in the bottom of the box. The sliders for the utensil drawer felt sturdy and secure. But, how would it work in the real world?
Is It Fashion Or Function?
Obviously, the aesthetics were much more pleasing. Sometimes, products do a great job of looking the part without performing like they should. Well, the King Charles Chuck Box had a couple points to note. But, overall it is a very functional AND fashionable utilitarian accessory for any camp kitchen.
We were warned about overloading the utensil drawer without a load in the chuck box. But, I wanted to see how well it would do if someone was naive. Honestly, it performed better than expected. It may have teetered with the unbalanced weight. But, it never tottered. That's a pass in my book.
I also got to test out the sizing at the shop to see how well our bags would match with the King Charles Chuck Box. It’s worth noting that even if our bags were overstuffed, then everything was still able to close and secure. The second shelf had more than enough space for our cargo, especially considering the fact that the majority of our utensils and more were moved to the top slider. This was going to make our cooking setup a breeze. We could use our guide table or even a picnic table and move the entire chuck box for a quick and easy setup/breakdown. In a pinch, we could even use the tailgate.
I do like the way that the chuck box fits in the back of the truck. There are less parts sticking out to make packing awkward. Our only real concerns are actually with the potential hazards of the corners and the possibility of a second latch for the drop down door.
As far as the “hazard”, I don’t really feel like the corners are truly dangerous. But, I could see them catching on some skin or even some delicate equipment going in and out of the back of the truck. Nothing has actually happened yet. But, I think we’re still being very cautious around our new accessory. And, regarding the second latch. I think it would give a little better sense of security, especially when we tend to bounce things around in the back of the truck. Also, it may help avoid any potential encounters with critters, if we left the box outside for the night.
Well, What Do We Think?
We are extremely happy with our King Charles Chuck Box. I really enjoyed their personal attention to detail, as well as our needs. I also love their willingness to make equipment that will adapt to each and every adventurer’s personal preferences.
Not all products will work perfectly for each and every situation. We learned a LOT about each of their products, as we toured their facility with Hans and Nick. Trail Kitchens knows that the more people know, the more satisfied they will be with their purchase. They offer multiple options for their Camp Kitchens. They have different sizes and layouts for their Van Kitchens. And, I’m sure that they would happily oblige if we asked for a second latch for our King Charles Chuck Box.
It’s great to have reliable companies in Tahoe that stand behind their products. It’s great to know local companies possess pride of craftsmanship. And, it’s great to know that there are affordable products right in our own backyard. That always makes it easy to shop locally. Thank you, Trail Kitchens. We can’t wait to add more of your products to each and every adventure vehicle in our fleet. And, I hope your experience at #OverlandExpoWest helped more people realize the quality product that you make, right here in Tahoe.