Nothing evokes the Adirondacks like a pack basket. They’re the original suspension pack – their rigidity makes load carrying much easier, and they keep fragile objects safe during a tough trek (bottles of wine, grocery store). I was introduced to the pack basket at the Dartmouth Organic Farm, where there’s a swale with a few dozen black ash that are reserved for local Native American basket weavers. A pack basket can be a bit unwieldy if it’s too big or poorly loaded, but when it’s done right, it’s a treat.
“The pack basket is peculiar to the Adirondacks being in evidence everywhere and for all purposes. Does the native mountaineer start for town to buy a little flour and sow belly? He takes his pack basket lovingly by the strap and saunters forth. Does the Missus want to go after berries for the summer camp table? She totes her little pack basket.” (Hunter-Trader-Trapper, Volume 42, 1921)
Japanese pack basket, from Onibaba (1964):
Modern equivalent found in China, from jimmiehomeschoolmom:
More modern pack basket use. Note beaver tail sticking out of basket. From drsethery.
Arsenal of pack baskets from Rock Scout.
Budget option from LL Bean. Note single-head rivets, nylon webbing, and plywood base. But it’s made in Maine and only $80. Wonderful way to get a feel for the pack basket.
The expanded version: the Timber Cruiser by Frost River. A pack basket inside of a canoe pack.
A few sellers on Etsy have pack baskets available, although I’m considering a Medium Tall from The Basket Lady. Her site has excellent notes on maintenance and is one of the few that offers baskets with leather harnesses. Note quadruple riveting and Conway buckles.