We’ve owned several travel trailers over the years but hardly ever went out camping. We live in the boonies, and I sincerely love where I live. There is no need for me to go any place else to enjoy myself. Basically, we used travel trailers as mobile bug out retreats, if the time ever came, or as a spare “bedroom” for guests. Approximately a year ago, we acquired a newer 21-foot travel trailer that has everything I wanted, except a/c, which would have been nice. (I still might have it installed and spend hot summer nights sleeping in it in our front yard!)
One thing becomes readily apparent when you have a small travel trailer, and that is the size. You simply can’t put everything inside of it that you’d like to, period! You learn about all the cool products that are specifically designed for travel trailer living. These products are down-sized from their full-sized counterparts as a necessity. You only have a very limited amount of room for storage. Even though most travel trailers and their bigger cousins, 5th wheel trailers, are designed to have a lot of storage space, there still isn’t enough space for everything you would like to have in them.
We keep our travel trailer pretty well stocked at all times. In a matter of a few minutes, I can hook it up to my pickup and drive away, knowing that we have at the very least a couple month’s worth of food and other supplies. Give us a half hour and we can load up a lot more food, guns, ammo, and other gear to see us through a year or longer, seriously! We have learned to economize, when loading up a travel trailer. You can’t have all the frozen and refrigerated foods you’d like, because it has a very small refrigerator with a tiny freezer, but that’s not all that important in the long run.
No matter what your plans might be– simple weekend camping, a week on a hunting trip, or long-term survival– you have to have cookware, but you can’t fit everything you’d like in a small travel trailer. I personally could live in our 21-foot travel trailer. It is big enough to carry all my needs and necessities; it really is. Still, space is at a premium, so we plan carefully what we keep stored in the trailer. My good friend and long-time SurvivalBlog.com reader, Big Jack in Arkansas, recently ran across an ad for a small pressure cooker. That is something we didn’t have in our travel trailer. Yeah, we have one. However, like many pressure cookers, it is big and takes up a lot of room. So, we never kept one in the trailer. Big Jack, bless his heart, bought one for us and had it sent directly to our home.
What we received is a 1.5 liter aluminum pressure cooker from an outfit called Hawkins Pressure Cookers. This is the smallest one they produce and their latest model, too. They make a complete line of pressure cookers in various sizes. Check out the above link on Amazon.com for some of their products. I’ll readily admit that a 1.5-liter sized pressure cooker isn’t ideal for cooking some meals, because it simply isn’t big enough. However, it is big enough for many cooking needs. I do a lot of the cooking in our house, simply because I’m a good cook. (Ask my family, and they’ll tell you.) But I have never used our full-sized pressure cooker. I leave that job to my wife. So, I called upon her to aid me in my testing of the Hawkins Pressure Cooker.
Working from her notes and my own observations, there are a few things that I wanted to bring to light. First of all, do not fill this little 1.5-liter pressure cooker more than 2/3rd of the way full or just halfway full for foods that expand, like rice and dried veggies.
The basic operation of the little Hawkins is to put your pressure cooker on the stove on high heat with the lid closed. When the vent starts steaming, you then place the vent weight/pressure regulator on it. It goes through three steps when cooking– no steam, steam escapes, and steam is full force when the regulator is lifting and whistling from the blast of the steam. Now, once it is whistling with the weight/pressure regulator on it, you reduce the heat to medium and start to time your cooking, as your recipe requires. BTW, a nice cookbook comes with the Hawkins, which is made in India. So many of the recipes are for Indian-style foods.
There are some great benefits to using a pressure cooker. First of all, it usually cuts your cooking time by 50%, and this is important when you only have limited fuel. In a travel trailer, you only have a certain amount of propane on hand for cooking. So, a pressure cooker saves time, money, and fuel, which is excellent!
My wife says it gives more nourishing foods, keeping in many of the vitamins and proteins. The food is also better tasting as well. A pressure cooker also makes your food more hygienic, because the temperature gets much higher than when using a regular pan to cook, it helps destroy harmful bacteria. It can also sterilize instruments for medical use, although this little 1.5 liter unit is too small for this use.
The Hawkins pressure cookers are unique in that its gasket fits from the inside. That is, there is a little rubber gasket on the top of the lid, and you have to fit the lid inside of the pan. It takes a little practice to get it down pat, but it’s really easy to do. Once pressure builds up in the pressure cooker, the lid is held on firmly from the pressure as well as the latching handle lid. You’ll want to really pay attention to the directions for attaching the lid to the pot; as I stated, it takes practice, but it is very easy to do once you do it a few times.
The Hawkins pressure cooker can be used on all types of stoves, or even wood fires. Just avoid direct contact with hot coals or hot wood. Our travel trailer has a propane stove and oven, so the pressure cooker worked great on the stovetop. This smallest Hawkins pressure cooker could even be carried in a backpack, if you want to use it while out camping, too. It cooks with about 15 lbs of pressure, and excess pressure is periodically released, so there are no worries about it exploding. However, it is recommended that you purchase a few extra pressure regulators just to have on hand. These can be ordered directly from Hawkins.
Honestly, I never gave much thought to keeping a pressure cooker in our travel trailer, until Big Jack told me about this product and had one sent to me. Travel trailer living does have it limits and, as already mentioned, one is the very limited space in all of them. We have one clothes closet that we have some clothes stored in. Other clothes and footwear is stored in one of the many other hidden storage spaces in the trailer. You learn, in short order, that you must pick and choose what you can store in your travel trailer. So you make your choices based on what is most important to you. A travel trailer sure beats living in a tent, if a SHTF scenario should arise. Yes, you can run out of propane, but we have a couple of solar ovens as well as rocket stoves, so we can use them for cooking, too. We would also load up our 3,500 watt generator, if we had to bug out, with a limited amount of fuel, of course! No matter how well you plan, you only have finite fuel sources for everything. You hope for the best, that you can somehow find a source of resupply of propane and gas to operate these things.]
Our goal for when my wife retires, if a major SHTF scenario doesn’t happen before then, is to sell our small homestead and purchase a nice-sized 5th wheel trailer and place it on a small plot of land in a rural area and live the rest of our days in it. We simply won’t be able to afford to continue living where we presently live on our retirement funds. However, a nice 5th wheel would make living very nice indeed. As a matter of fact, most 5th wheel trailers we’ve looked at over the years are much nicer than our current home. No plan is perfect, but we looked down the road, and this is what we’ll probably end up doing. We’ll need to sell off a lot of stuff, because even in a big 5th wheel trailer, you can’t fit everything in it that you now own.
So, if you have a travel trailer, a 5th wheel trailer, or are in the market for a pressure cooker, check out the many different models that Hawkins has to sell. I’m guessing you’ll find one that is just perfect for your needs. I believe the model that was sent to us by Big Jack in Arkansas was about $26, give or take a few cents. It’s a great investment and a great gift for our long-term survival needs in our travel trailer.
Cascio’s Note: If you are entertaining the notion about living in a travel trailer or even a 5th wheel trailer, pick up a copy of Brian Kelling’s book Travel-Trailer Homesteading Under $5,000. It’s a great starting point, with some good information in it.