Monday, May 28, 2012

Make a Rawhide Pack Basket

This is a primitive skill that my old survival mentor taught me.  He said that was how some Native Americans made their pack baskets.  I've never seen one in a museum and I can't find any documentation on the internet, but it does make a dandy pack; very light-weight, very strong, and comfortable to carry.  This would make a great trekking pack for a buckskinner, longhunter, or mountain man re-enactor.

The basic parts of the pack are two wooden hoops with rawhide netting made like the target hoop from my last post, and one wooden hoop without netting.  Of the two netted hoops, one should be pretty near round and the other should be more oval shaped.  The un-netted hoop should be oval shaped.  Pictured below:  The basic parts of the pack basket
To assemble the pack, take some wet rawhide and lash the two netted hoops together as shown below.

Now take the un-netted hoop and lash it to the two netted hoops as shown below, then set the whole thing aside and let it dry overnight.  Pictured below: Un-netted hoop attached
When the pack has dried out take some more wet rawhide and net in the sides of the pack.  To do this you follow the same basic procedure that you use to net the hoops.  Pictured below:  One side of the pack basket netted in (the other side is secured with a rawhide thong to keep the drying rawhide from pulling the basket lopsided)
Net in the other side and let it all dry.  You may want to add a twisted rawhide handle to the top of the pack basket to make it easier to pick up.  And here's your finished pack basket:
Now we need some straps for the pack.  In my next post I will show you how to make a set of pack straps that are sewn together with real sinew using the old-time method of sewing.


Tirithon GM said...

Cool basket! Have you ever tried working with bark? I would think a supple bark like maple could work as a weaving material.

Sensible Survival said...

Have never tried to use bark for this type of pack. I did make one once using cordage made from yucca leaves. It worked pretty well but the rawhide shrinks as it dries and makes the whole thing seem tighter and more sturdy. Hank