How to Waterproof Your Feet With Plastic Bags

closeup of socked feet with plastic underneath

Layne Kennedy/Getty Images

Hikers can come across mud at any time of the year, but spring is the best season for hiking through patches of mud and slush. Some people go straight to waterproof hiking boots for this type of damp terrain, but what if you don't have waterproof boots?

That doesn't need to be a problem as you can get similar results with a pair of plastic bags.

Double-Check the Plastic Bags

foot with plastic bag

Lisa Maloney

Step one is to check for holes in the plastic bags. If there are holes in the plastic bags, they won't do much to protect your feet. If you need extra confirmation that the bags are watertight, turn them inside out and fill them up. If the water doesn't leak out, it won't leak in when you're wearing the bags.

Once you've got two waterproof plastic bags, put on calf-length socks and stick one foot in each bag. You get the tidiest fit by putting your toes in one corner of the bag, then pulling the rest of the bag over you foot with the bottom of the bag beneath your sole.

Hold That Bag Up

foot with sock on top of plastic

Lisa Maloney

One of the easiest ways to keep the bag in place is covering it with another sock, as you see here in the image. The downside of this is that the sock on the outside is going to end up soaked or muddy. If you're on a long hike and only wear your plastic bag getup for part of it, that means dealing with an extra pair of messy socks for the remainder of your trek.

One alternate solution is to forgo the outside sock and use large rubber bands to hold the bag in place around your calf. Keep things even tidier by putting a second bag around your ankle. Of course, this adds the extra wrinkle of making sure those bands aren't too tight. Size them too snugly and you'll end up reducing your circulation, resulting in cold feet and potential for a whole other world of problems.

Want a more stylish solution? Just put on gaiters over your plastic bags. They'll hold everything in place, no rubber bands or extra socks necessary.

Put a Shoe On

shoe on top of sock on top of plastic

Lisa Maloney

The last step is to put a show on top. Essentially, a plastic bag will be sandwiched between two pairs of socks, with a shoe on top of the whole thing. Your shoe and the sock on the outside will get soaked, but the plastic keeps the inside sock—and your foot—dry.

An Alternate Finish

shoe on top of plastic-covered foot

Lisa Maloney

Another method is if you just stick your foot (clad in sock and plastic bag) in your shoe. That way there are no muddy socks to worry about for the remainder of the hike. This is easiest to do if you have lightweight, flexible footwear that is snug enough that it won't slide around on your foot, even with the slippery plastic bag in place.