I've had one for about 25 years, which fits inside one of my Duluth packs. However, I've never taken it in the canoe on a canoe trip. It permanently resides inside the back doors of my magic bus. It's where I keep my life jacket, various paddling shoes, throw bag, spare straps, carabiners, leg tether, signal lights, miscellaneous other paddling gear, and anything that gets wet during a paddle or camping trip.
I have a modern made straight sided one I use occasionally to frieght bulky or sharp sidded stuff. Not comfortable to carry. But,my friend has an old countoured one that is way more comfortable to carry. There is a basket lady in the ADKs that makes them out of some sort of reed. Her's are softer and more flexable than ash. I have considered getting one.
Packbaskets were (are) very popular with trappers. They make carrying bulky traps much easier. This is a photo of my dad's old packbasket. Today I use it as a vessel for distributing custom made wool toques at a graduation ceremony for high adventure wilderness guide students.
I use one of mine all the time carrying photo equipment, Ice fishing gear, traps, etc.
Here's a few snaps of them in action.
Detail of the handle
These baskets were made by a Native American back in the 70's and have been in use since then, they are very well made with a woven "floor" and not the standard "piece of plywood" floor that is the bane of all inferior pack baskets. The hardest thing on a wooden basket is constantly setting it down on wet or slushy ice, as this gets the "floor" wet and it starts to crack the weave at the bend where the "floor" meets the walls of the basket. Over the years I've worn out a few wooden baskets and have tried a synthetic pack basket made of fiberglass and that has turned out to be almost indestructible.
I wore out a few of them when I was muskrat trapping. The open top worked well for flipping the muskrats over a shoulder and into the pack. Mine got the job done but I never relished carrying a loaded one while stomping around a marsh.
I have one sized to fit inside a #2 Duluth Cruiser pack. I used it on a couple of northwoods trips as a food pack back in the early 1980s. It is unlikely to ever make another trip with me in a canoe as I would probably just use a barrel these days. I still use the pack, and the basket all the time for car camping.
Use mine when scouting around on day trips for carving material...light duty stuff. This year, I'm hoping to use as much homemade gear as possible and am planning short weekend trips with the pack basket and a wanigan (currently under construction).
Hi Annie, May I ask where the packbasket made from the green fibre-glass came from? I'm always on the lookout for new ideas for proven gear. I have a Trapper's pack made from some kind of molded rigid plastic, it works well but there's no give to it. Just thinking, maybe that packbasket from woven fiber-glass might be more comfortable.