StandAloneStack is a free tool that lets you access a customized collection of apps, files, and folders from an icon on the desktop or from the taskbar itself.
It's a no-install-required program; just unzip it and run. From there, you can specify what folder to include in your stack, and optionally customize all sorts of things, such as custom icons for the items in your stacks and whether you want them to appear in a tall, curvy, Mac-like stack or in a more organized, folder-like grid.
Once you're done, you can click your stack to open up our custom collection of icons -- which can include programs to run, folders to browse, and even specific, commonly used files.
The only thing StandAloneStack doesn't do well is explain how to create the stack to begin with; it assumes you're already wise to the plan. It's not complicated, though; just create a folder somewhere on your hard drive and drag shortcuts to programs, files, and folders into it. Then, in StandAloneStack, point a new stack at this folder that holds your customized collection.
StandAloneStack takes a slightly different approach to the same sort of stacking trick as 7Stacks. Both are convenient, attractive, and free, but StandAloneStack doesn't suffer from the short pause that 7Stacks inserts before popping its icon stack.