Pack Basket




Introduction: Pack Basket

This is a backpack basket that is also known as a "Trapper's Pack" or "Adirondack Pack". The measurements of the finished pack are approx. 7" x 14" x 17" high. It weighs in at 3 pounds.

This instructable will be in three parts: Feet, Basket, and Straps. You can do this project in a day, or stretch it out over several days. It will test many of your skills: woodworking, basketry, and sewing!

Step 1: FEET


Two pieces of wood, 1x2x14", I prefer pine because it is easier to work with, you could use hardwood if you like it

Something for the bottom of the basket. Today I am using corrugated plastic, a yard sign that I found in the trash (not the one in the picture but the same stuff). 7" X 14" . You can also use thin wood, but do not use cardboard

Two 7" long "slats", I am using a yardstick, also from the trash, any thin, narrow wood or even plastic is fine

Saw, I am using a battery operated saw for speed, but a hand saw would work

Tape Measure and Pencil

Chisel, to chip away the unwanted wood


Optional: Paint, paintbrush

Step 2: Feet, Continued

Mark Location And Width Of Straps

The straps I am using are 1.5" wide and I am setting them 2" in from each edge. Use a small saw, like a coping saw, or set a circular saw on shallow cut--you only need enough space for the thickness of the straps. Cut several grooves, remove wood with a chisel, and sand. OPTIONAL: two coats of paint. I am using green to match the straps.

Step 3: BASKET


One roll of 7/8 reed

One roll of 5/8 reed

Drill with bit

Small Screws, OR hammer and small nails

tin snips


tape measure, pencil


two long pieces of thin, bendable wood, I am using ash today, which is hard to find, but I have used: Leather belts, fabric belts, plastic strips, and different kinds of wood, including pine lattice slats

paracord, and lighter

those "feet" you already made

NOT PICTURED: a 10" piece of leather belt, for the handle, Cleveland bolts, in assorted lengths, and a board

Step 4: Starting the Basket

First, soak your reed in warm water, to get it nice and bendy. You should soak or at least spray your reed with water between every step, to keep it flexible.

From you 7/8 reed, and using the tin snips, cut ELEVEN that are 46" long, and FIVE that are 54" long. On one of the 46" pieces, make a mark at 23", and on one of the 54" pieces, make a mark at 27". Loosely weave the bottom of the basket, with your marks in the middle--the 6th and 3rd reed. Tighten your weave to measure 7" x 14". Make sure the bottom is SQUARE and that the ends are EVEN. This is the foundation, so it is worth it to spend the extra time to get it just right. These are the "spokes".

Step 5: Attach the Feet

Very carefully slide the feet under, making sure the "strap gaps" in the wood are facing UP. Place the corrugated plastic (or whatever you are using) on top, and place the wooden slats on the edges. Drill pilot holes, and insert screws, or hammer small nails down the edges. Be careful to use the correct length screws or nails, and do not put one in where your "strap gaps" are. When you are finished this step, the bottom will be secure, and you can pick it up.

Step 6: Cut One "Spoke" in Half

On one of the middle reeds on the long side, cut a 1/4 piece away from the middle of the reed, making it into two. You will treat this as two seperate reeds.

Step 7: Start Weaving!

Get your roll of 5/8 reed --weaver--out of the water, and taper 3 feet of one piece (just cut it to a long, tapering point with scissors) Starting on one of the short sides, start weaving your basket, making sure to treat the cut spoke as two spokes, and keeping each spoke straight up and down, pay attention to keeping the corners square, tight, but not too tight! Under, over, under, over, pushing the reed down to make it tight and keeping everything even. By the third or forth 'row', your basket will be taking shape, and will be easier to handle. Continue this until you get a couple of inches from the top of your shortest spoke.

Step 8: Adding a Weaver

Of course, the weavers are not one long piece, so you will have to add one when one runs out. When you get to the end of one, cut it even with the FRONT of a spoke; then start your next weaver by tucking it in behind the previous spoke. You do not need glue or anything, your reed should be damp, and when it dries it will tighten, and if done right, you will not even notice this. It is hard to explain, please look carefully at the photos.

Step 9: Finishing the Top

When you get near the top, taper the last few feet of weaver reed, just like you did the first, by cutting it to a long, skinny point. Finish weaving. Cut all the spokes that are on the INSIDE of the basket flush with the top. Fold and tuck all the spokes that are on the OUTSIDE of the basket, towards the inside. I find it helps to cut them into points. The top of the basket should be fairly even all the way around.

Step 10: Adding the Rim

If your rim material is any kind of wood, you will want to soak it for this next step, if you are using sturdy fabric or leather, no need to soak.

Bend your chosen rim material to fit the top of the basket, adding the inner rim first, then the outer rim, marking it to overlap approx 4", cutting it to length, putting it back in, and clamping it. I like to overlap the inner rim in the back, and the outer rim in the front.

Optional but nice, I added an approx. 10" piece of leather belt, another "recycle center" find, sandwiching it between the inner and outer rim, drilling two holes, and adding Cleveland bolts, only to the back of the basket, where the handle is.

To give the basket a nice shape, I wet the back, and clamped it to a board, until it dried.

Step 11: Rim Stuffing and Whip Stitching

Carefully place a piece of paracord, cut to size, in between the inner and outer rim, removing and replacing the clamps as you do so. This is called "rim stuffing", and will make the top of the basket look better, hiding the jagged egde of the top of the weave. Note: You can use many different items for rim stuffing: Yarn, sea grass, paracord, or you can skip it altogether if you want.

To whip stitch your rim into place, start "sewing" through the holes in the weave, at a diagonal. Pull it nice and tight the whole time! When you get to the front of the basket, mark, drill, and add one Cleveland bolt to hold the rim together. (see photo) When you get back to where you started the whip stitch,( I started at the handle) turn around and go back the other way, making "X" shapes along the top of the basket as you go.

When you are done, knot the paracord on the inside of the basket, and seal ends with a lighter.

Step 12: STRAPS


Approx. 18' of webbing, cut into three 6' pieces Today I am using 1.5" wide cotton webbing, but I have also used karate belts, and auto seat belts.

One buckle that fits webbing

Three sliders that fit webbing

Scissors, needle, thread

Step 13: Straps, Continued

Sew one end of one 6' piece of webbing to the middle of a slider. Thread on one half of the buckle, thread webbing through the slider, then sew on the other half of the buckle, making sure the 'top', or cosmetically pleasing side of the buckle and the web hems are all where they are supposed to be.

Sew one end of 6' webbing to the middle of a slider. Run the other end through the slider, fold the loose end over approx. 5", folding it the OPPOSITE way that you folded it to sew on the slider. Sew down the 2" at the edge, leaving a 3" loop. Repeat with the last piece of webbing.

Step 14: Attach the Straps

Take the "loops" on the straps, and, hem side down, wiggle them through the slots on the bottom of the pack, going from the "back" to the "front" of the pack. Bring them up to the rim. Now lace the belt with the buckle, through the loops. Lace it though the large shoulder loops on the other side. Buckle, and tighten.

I usually sew, just a few stitches with a needle and thread, to hold the belt in place, without these stitches, it tends to slip down. Normally I would use a dark green thread for this, I used tan thread so you could see.

Step 15: Go Have Fun With Your Basket

Fill your basket with goodies and go for a picnic!

I hope you liked this extra long instructable, if you did, please vote for it in the Outdoors Contest.

I will try to answer any questions you have, in the comments section.

Thank you!

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    25 Discussions

    Can't wait to start making my own. Thanks for posting this.

    Questions: How flexible is this pack basket? If I wanted to make the opening narrower than the "belly", what would I need to do differently?

    4 replies

    This is very flexable, springy, but still crushable. You don't want to hear that cracking sound. When you are weaving it, you have complete control over the shape, wider, looser weave = bigger; tighter weave = smaller. Sounds like you are making a mushroom basket. Sorry for the delay in answering, I just came out of hibernation!

    I have a question... Can I make this from leather? I know it would be soft and not so upright but I use a Adirondack pack that is from my parents' honeymoon it is 54 years old and starting to break down but it makes carrying groceries so easy. I live on the third floor and on crutches and if you pack heavy to lightest items it dose not feel as if you are carrying anything. Or does anyone have any ideals on repairing my basket.

    1 reply

    Wow, do you mean weaving leather straps, like a whole bunch of belts? That would be really neat, but really heavy, too. I don't know. Give it a try! If you need a backpack for carrying groceries, I would put some simple straps on one of those tall, skinny laundry baskets. :) Good luck!

    How long do you have to soak the reeds and can you color the reds with fabric dye while it soaks?

    1 more answer

    You really only have to soak the reeds for a few minutes to soften up, and yes, you can dye reed with fabric dye, I use Rit brand, it works well.


    Wow, you really worked your dog to death. He did a great job on supervising your work. "Who's a good Boy"

    1 reply

    thank you for your comment, the dog is eyeing the pack nervously because it could mean a long hike is involved, dog would rather watch TV

    So im in the middle of making this and hit a quick snag in step 1, i believe the feet should be 14" long not 7", the yard sticks in the pic also show that. Great 'able none the less and ill post pics when im done with mine.

    1 reply

    Yes that is true, the long sides are 14" long, and the short sides are 7", thank you, I will fix that :)

    This looks very professional! I hope to try to make one soon!

    1 reply

    By "Cleveland Bolt" do you mean "Chicago Screw"? Great Instructable, by the way.

    1 reply

    the actual generic name for that style of fastener is ( I am not making this up) sex bolts. Google it and hundreds of styles and materials are offered for sale.

    Great ibble. I have wanted to make an adirondack basket for years and had no idea you could buy the tapes. I envisioned riving white oak splits until my hands bled.