One of the oldest surviving traditions inside the Adirondack Park. These baskets were used to carry the heavy loads needed for hunting, fishing, trapping and other pursuits in the mountain wilderness. Most early Adirondack pack baskets were made using hand pounded Black ash wood splints split to satin like the one pictured here. They have a flat or slightly curved back and a "belly" that bows out somewhat to increase the volume of the contents the pack could hold. A leather or woven webbing harness with adjustable shoulder straps allows the basket to be worn comfortably on the guide or hunter's back.
While pack baskets don’t look comfortable, they are actually surprisingly light and pleasant to wear. Historians believe they evolved from the carrying baskets of the Algonquian people who populated the region, they were useful for carrying supplies, and even babies, through the woods.
As European settlers moved into the region, they adopted the baskets as their preferred carrier, largely because they were so functional; water didn’t rot them, and heavy loads didn’t crush them. The Algonquians and Iroquois people, who also crafted pack baskets, earned a tidy profit selling their woven wares to French trappers and traders.