The Indians of the Northeast used a basket with thongs to carry their equipment on their backs. Perhaps this was inspired by the baskets used by the Indian squaws to carry their papooses. This type of basket, known as an Adirondack Pack Basket, is used by many campers and hikers today. It has the advantage of being light but sturdy, and of standing on the ground or table for easy use when cooking, or when packing gear, since it will not collapse as a softer pack may do.
Splints for such a basket may be purchased ready-cut from handcraft supply houses, or may be pounded from natural material. The Boy Scouts of America have a kit of materials for such a basket, with directions for making it; this may be obtained from the Boy Scout Equipment Service. Use of such a kit may be the first step in making this type of camping equipment, and a progression would be to procure the natural materials.
Materials needed: 17 splints (4' long, 1" wide, or desired sizes) ; 1/2" or y8" weaving splints-each about 10' long; 1 splint for top-41/2" wide, 10' long; 2 reinforcing splints for bottom; piece of wood for handle; 11/2" webbing for harness; split rivets; varnish.
1. Lay splints on table, 10 going one way, and 7 woven over and under in the opposite directions to make base (Fig. III-22).
2. Split the center splint on one long side with a jack-knife to make an uneven number of splints for weaving (Fig. III-22). This splint should be in the center of the back of basket.
3. Use 2 blocks the size of the bottom of basket. Nail or tie the base between these blocks (Fig. III-23).
4. Tie splints loosely together at top, with board inside, and soak in pail for at least an hour (Fig. III-24).
5. Soak weaving splints at same time; keep extra weavers in water throughout project.
6. Bend up sides of base, around inside board. Start weaving with a narrow weaver, under one and over one (Fig. III-25).
7. Continue with the weavers. After several times around the basket, remove blocks, and turn the basket upside down to continue weaving. Keep the back of basket flat, but make the sides and front bulge slightly (Fig. III-26).
8. When sides are about 12 to 15 inches tall (or desired size), stop weaving, and cut off extra splints four inches above last row of weaving. Using jackknife, point the splints (Fig. III-26).
9. Soak to be sure the splints are supple, and fold down inside or outside the basket, tucking into weaving to fasten (Fig. III-26).
10. Whittle and, bend handle from a supple stick, pointing ends (Fig. III-27). Tuck pointed ends down into basket at top of back.
11. Bend a splint (or a half-round supple stick) to fit inside the basket for rim. Tack to inside of basket. With a narrow weaver, fasten the rim to the basket with an over and under stitch (Fig. III-27). Make a cross stitch by weaving back the opposite way, or by starting in the middle of the weaver and using both ends to make the cross.
12. Reinforce the bottom with 2 extra splints, weaving them under the outside splints. Start at front, about 2 splints above bottom, turn at base, weave under bottom splints, turn at other edge, and up 2 splints at back. Repeat at other corner (Fig. III-26).
13. Soak basket, and press into desired shape-then let dry.
14. Cover with coat of clear spar varnish, if desired.
15. To make harness: harness should be made to fit the basket. Measure completed basket with string before cutting webbing, or attaching buckles. Use webbing 11/4" or 11/2" wide.
Throat strap: fasten around neck of basket, just below the rim, with buckle and end in front (Fig. III-28 a).
Two sling straps: make loops in one end of each strap with 2 split rivets (see Chap. XVI on Equipment Making). The throat strap goes through these loops. Straps go from throat strap in front down under a splint or two on bottom of basket, and out to back, with about 3" leeway. Buckles are on these ends (Fig. III-28 b).
Two shoulder straps: these are fastened at the middle of the back to the throat strap with split rivets. The straps should be long enough to go over shoulders, and down to buckle of sling strap at bottom of back of basket. There should be some leeway, to adjust the straps to fit the wearer (Fig. III-28 c). A wider piece of webbing, or a pad, may be stitched in place underneath strap at shoulder, to ease the pressure of the straps (Fig. III-28 d).
Two short straps may be riveted to the sling straps on underside of basket, to keep straps in place, to strengthen bottom, and to help support load.