Good foraging bags and baskets are essential to preserving the quality of wild food. The best one for you will be comfortable, convenient, and suitable for your unique circumstances.
To help you determine the best option, I’ve compared the quality and build of several popular products against their function in various situations. By factoring in additional features, such as carrying style and design, I’ve compiled a list of the top five foraging bags and baskets on the market.
Each is optimal for different conditions, so read on to discover the best foraging receptacle for your unique needs.
Foraging Bags and Baskets Reviews
1. Best Overall: Barebones Harvesting and Gathering Bag
Comfy and durable, the Barebones Harvesting and Gathering Bag is best for those who forage in all types of weather and terrain.
The Barebones Harvesting and Gathering Bag is a heavy-duty yet lightweight companion you can use in all seasons. Made of canvas and coated with a stiff paraffin wax finish, this bag guards against wear and tear from heavy forest brush and inclement weather. A removable watertight liner stops oozing fruit juice from staining the bag, and a water-repellent coating keeps it safe from rain.
The bag is compact but folds out to accommodate more items as needed. When it’s full, you can carry it comfortably in a surprisingly diverse number of ways. All the straps are adjustable and unclip from the canvas, allowing you to rearrange the carry as you see fit.
This pack’s opaque nature and subtle coloring promote discretion, but the canvas is less breathable than other materials. Because of this, it may not be the best for delicate shrooms and berries that spoil easily. It’s also pricier than most bags on this list, but I believe the convenience and features are worth the cost.
- Bottom or top empty design
- Removable watertight liner
- Reconfigurable straps
- Tough paraffin-coated canvas
- Smaller tool pockets included
- Not machine washable
2. Best Budget: VylerSky Foraging Kit
The VylerSky Foraging Kit is the best budget-friendly bag for beginners and those seeking a simple option.
Are you looking for a no-frills foraging bag? VylerSky has you covered with a straightforward design that goes back to the basics. Made of flexible mesh polyester with an adjustable shoulder strap, this bag collapses to almost nothing when empty yet expands to hold a sizable harvest when full.
It’s lightweight and comfortable for longer walks, allowing for potential spore dispersal and healthy propagation as foragers travel through the forest. This truly is the perfect bag for mushrooms and delicate herbs, but users should be careful when harvesting roots, rocks, and seashells — these could all potentially rip the fabric.
The VylerSky bag has an inner pocket for miscellaneous items and the kit includes a seven-inch foraging knife and brush combo tool. If you’re a beginner, it will be fantastic to cut, collect, and clean foraged finds with one simple and affordable kit. If you’re an experienced forager, you may already have your own setup and probably won’t need the knife.
I love that this bag is affordable, ultralight, and machine washable. However, it’s more of a mushroom-hunting tote than an all-purpose foraging bag. Additionally, taking it on longer hikes might get uncomfortable since it doesn’t function as a backpack or front pack.
- Breathable mesh
- Includes knife with brush
- No reconfigurable straps
- Less durable than other options
3. Best Hands-Free: Hide & Drink Foraging Belt Pouch
The Hide & Drink Belt Pouch is the best choice for those who want a hands-free option while hunting tiny treasures.
Many people need both hands to bend, cut, and harvest plants when foraging wild food. The Hide & Drink Foraging Belt Pouch caters to those needs with a unique design that sits at your side rather than in your palms. The bag has a loop you can string along your belt and two metal clasps to attach to pants or a backpack.
It compresses to about the size of a cell phone, unfolding as you fill it. It’s stylish and subtle, small enough to fit in a back pocket when empty but large enough to hold a couple of pounds of harvest when full. Made of wax-coated canvas cut and stitched by hand, this is a durable bag built to last for years.
This pouch is perfect for foraging tiny shells, rocks, nuts, and flowers. Take one to the beach or through a wildflower field to collect seeds, but know that it’s not the best option for bigger hauls. The configuration won’t allow delicate fruits to breathe well, and heavier items might throw your weight off.
Hide & Drink pros:
Hide & Drink cons:
- Small capacity
- Uneven weight distribution
4. Best for Big Hauls: AuSable Trappers Hardwood Backpack
The AuSable backpack is a rigid basket best for foraging huge hauls and heavier items in all types of weather.
The AuSable basket is a forager’s dream, combining breathable, woven maple hardwood and easy-carry back straps to bring you the best of both worlds: a pack basket. Its nylon straps stretch slightly to conform to your body shape, and the entire pack is much lighter than it looks at just three pounds.
Thanks to a built-in stand, you won’t need to prop it up or worry about it falling over when you take it off. This is especially helpful when foraging things like apples and pinecones since a big haul can be heavy and take ages to clean if it spills. You can choose packs ranging from 16” to 24” tall, depending on your height and what you prefer to forage.
The maple is weather resistant and holds up even in extreme conditions, but it doesn’t compress at all. Storing it in the car might not be feasible because it’s so large, and carrying it through exceptionally rough terrain may get cumbersome.
Additionally, what you gain in convenience, you lose in subtlety — it’s a pretty obvious receptacle. Anyone you meet will know what you’re doing, and you risk others discovering your honey holes.
- Breathable design
- Backpack-style carry
- Large capacity
- Maple hardwood veneer
- Does not compress
5. Best for Home Use: Fiskars Garden Harvest Basket
The Fiskars Garden Harvest Basket is a large, wide receptacle perfect for people who forage around the neighborhood close to home.
Durable black and orange plastic makes the Fiskars Garden Harvest Basket tougher and heartier than traditional wicker foraging baskets. It’s a roomy receptacle that won’t bruise delicate fruits and berries but will still enable you to haul heavier items like nuts and roots.
I love this basket because it has a built-in colander on the bottom of one side. This allows your foraged finds to breathe comfortably and lets you wash them immediately upon returning home. You can clean everything without even removing it from the basket. The other side has no holes, and the middle sports a small compartment for your knives and tools.
The handles are sturdy and long enough to grip comfortably while walking, but the basket doesn’t have straps. You’ll have to carry it in your hands the entire time, so it won’t be comfortable on long hikes. Additionally, it has no top covering, so your finds could get wet or damaged by bad weather.
- Built-in colander
- Suitable for foraging anything
- Easy to wash
- No straps
- Unsuitable for hiking
Every forager has unique needs and standards when it comes to their tools. Where, what, and how you intend to forage will have a substantial impact on the bag or basket you ultimately choose.
However, all these factors can change seasonally and with your whims. It’s essential to apply some critical thinking, ask yourself some questions, and anticipate your own needs. In some cases, having multiple foraging receptacles might benefit you.
Bags vs Baskets
Should you choose a bag or a basket? Both can work, but one will be superior depending on your priorities and preferences.
Baskets are usually lightweight and can be more breathable than bags. They’re easily accessible because you hold them right in your hand, so you can put away foraged finds immediately as you walk and gather them up. Baskets are also hard, with shallow rims and wide bottoms. You can arrange wild food at the bottom of a basket so that it doesn’t get squashed or bruised, adding an extra element of protection.
However, baskets are ungainly. Many foragers go out for hours, hiking long distances to access remote honey holes. Carrying a basket the entire time can be uncomfortable and impractical. Additionally, baskets aren’t subtle. They may not be the best choice if you want to keep your activities discreet.
Use baskets for:
- Delicate mushrooms
- Soft-skinned fruits
Most bags are lightweight and easy to carry. They compress easier than baskets, making them more suitable to store in the car for quick access. Backpack-style bags like the Barebones Gathering Bag add substantial ease and comfort when hiking. You can balance your weight easier with a backpack since you don’t carry them in your hands, and you can walk farther across rougher terrain.
Of course, bags also have their downsides. Harvesting and stowing can be more difficult because you constantly have to unsling your bag, open it, and put the food away. Unless you have a mesh sack like the VylerSky Foraging Kit, your bag won’t be as breathable as an open basket. While thicker fabrics add subtlety, they could compress around your harvest and damage it.
Use bags for:
- Hearty mushrooms
- Hard-skinned fruits
Consider Your Location
Those who forage in cities will have different needs than those who forage in wilderness areas. If your trips are quick and hyperlocal, carrying a basket like the Fiskars Garden Basket might be easier. You can head out to the yard, collect what you need quickly, and arrange it in the basket.
If you’re foraging in remote areas with more challenging terrain, a basket will be inconvenient and bulky. To stay comfortable on the move, you’ll want to choose an over-the-shoulder or backpack-style bag suitable for the specific food you intend to collect.
Protect Your Harvest
Consider the material your bag or basket is made from. Treated wood and hearty canvas are great because they can be arable but still keep your harvest safe from rain, snow, excessive heat, and other damaging environmental factors. Food-grade plastics can also be suitable, but only with arable holes that let heat escape.
All the products on this list are made with protective material except the VylerSky bag, which is made of mesh. Many experienced foragers actually favor porous mesh over heavier materials because it could allow mushroom spores to drop and propagate more readily. It also aerates wild food and keeps everything fresher.
Ultimately, the material you choose will depend on your priorities and the conditions where you are. If you live in a subtropical area or forage in the hot summer, breathability will be more critical. If you’re foraging in harsh wintery conditions, weather protection will matter more.
Choose the Right Size
You don’t want to overload your bag since crowding can damage your crop. If you travel mainly to well-known areas and usually collect big hauls, a heavy-duty basket like the AuSable Trappers Basket will serve perfectly.
However, you don’t want to lug around a gigantic receptacle when you don’t need one. Bags that are too big can be just as harmful because the harvest might bounce around in the extra space and get damaged.
If you aren’t looking for substantial wild food harvests, a hip bag like the Hide & Drink Foraging Pouch will work well. If you’re a beginner and aren’t sure what you want yet, go for a shoulder bag or a midsize backpack. These are usually a solid compromise, and you can always get a more appropriate receptacle later if necessary.
Each foraging bag offers a unique experience. I’m smitten with the convenience and adaptable design of the Barebones Gathering Bag, but the mushroom-lover in me also longs for the VylerSky mesh sack. Now that you know how to choose the best foraging bags and baskets for you, it’s time to hit the woods and find some treasures!