Are you ready to walk the Camino de Santiago ? and wondering where you are going to keep your valuables, money and Camino Passport whilst walking ?
Amanda Schaffer had the same problem and came up with a fantastic solution that is stylish and perfect for any pilgrim walking the Camino. The Pilgrim Pouch ! Check out her story below
Birth of the Pilgrim Pouch
The story behind the Pilgrim Pouch began in 2011 when my dad Albert and I walked the Camino Frances in memory of my mom Lillian and her sisters, Arlene and Ginny, who all passed away in 2010.
Our gear for the journey included extra hiking stuff (brought just in case!) and also little Dala horses I’d made, which we planned to leave at special places in honor of my mom & her sisters’ Swedish heritage. Not surprising, our backpacks were heavier than what had been advised by experienced Camino walkers.
After a few days on the trail, Dad and I realized the need to downsize our gear to lighten the load — things not used were given away or sent home. Another realization was the need for a small & lightweight crossbody pouch to hold essentials.
It was awkward taking off our packs to retrieve something or getting something from Dad’s pack while he was wearing it (or vice versa with my pack). Thus, when we returned to Spain in 2013 to walk another Camino, our gear preparation included searching for a small, lightweight pouch.
My quest to find on the market what I had in mind proved futile and prompted me to think “Why don’t I make one!” As an artist, this seemed to be the logical solution, so I got out my sewing machine and created the original version of the Pilgrim Pouch. On the Camino it became invaluable – guidebooks, sunscreen, sketchbook, snacks, etc. were now within an easy reach.
Other walkers commented on how handy the bag must be, and it led to the idea that perhaps the Pilgrim Pouch could be developed into a commercial product.
I then spent the next couple of years refining the overall pouch design and creating the brand logo, a medieval style boot that represents the countless walkers who have trekked the Camino over the centuries. Production of sample bags involved finding a local manufacturer and getting a patent & trademarks in place.
The first manufactured Pilgrim Pouch, the Black Boot Bag (4.3 oz.), debuted in 2015 and featured a zipper closure, a wide & adjustable shoulder strap, and the boot logo silkscreened on the front.
In recent years, the Pilgrim Pouch line has expanded with the Green Foliage Bag (4.1 oz.) and the Gold Bee Bag (5 oz.) with artwork inspired by medieval pilgrimage references. All bags are made with eco-friendly fabrics — Organic Cotton & an Organic Cotton/ECO Twill blend (recycled plastic water bottles).
New features include pocket dividers on the inside, water-based silkscreens, and zippers made with recycled materials. Also added to the Pilgrim Pouch line were “ex-voto” boot zipper pulls, inspired by my art studies of ex-voto healing objects that pilgrims left at shrines during the Middle Ages.
The zipper pulls include a boot logo shape and a shell, symbol of the Camino. Manufactured locally, they’re made with a corn-based, medical grade plastic that is phthalate free & non-toxic.
So far the Pilgrim Pouch has been ‘field tested’ on three Caminos, and I look forward to the next journey!
Check out Pilgrim Pouch for further product information, Camino resources, sample packing list, and photos from various routes.
Amanda Schaffer, designer and inventor of the Pilgrim Pouch