Introduction: How to Make Snow Boots (without the Snow Boots)

Picture of How to Make Snow Boots (without the Snow Boots)

 It's December 19, 2009 in Washington DC, and we have 16 inches of snow on the ground, with another 12 inches to come in the next 12 or so hours. 

Everyone's staying home, but after being couped up in the house and taking pictures from the bedroom window, I wanted a better view of the winter wonderland that waited for me outside. 

The problem is that I don't have any snow boots, and the only pair of gym shoes I have are mesh-topped. I had to figure something out though, because I wanted to get outside and play!

What I did worked perfectly, and I was able to romp around in 16" of snow while staying completely dry and warm. 

Step 1: Step 1 - the Base

Picture of Step 1 - the Base

 First, you'll need a base layer. I used knee-high socks, and highly recommend, but you can also use the tall calf-length socks. Ankle socks will NOT work.

Step 1 -- Put your foot in a sock.

Step 2: Step 2 - the Barrier

Picture of Step 2 - the Barrier

 Next, you'll need a couple recycled grocery sacks, or some garbage bags. Don't use Ziploc bags, they don't bunch right and end up being uncomfortable and not really protective.

Step 2 -- Put that sock in a bag.

Step 3: Step 3 - the Outer Layer

Picture of Step 3 - the Outer Layer

 Next, you'll need another pair of knee-high (or calf-length) socks. Put those on over the grocery sack.

Step 3 -- Put that bag in a sock.

Step 4: Step 4 - the Pull-down

Picture of Step 4 - the Pull-down

 The last step to weather-proofing a foot is to cover it with a pant! The type of pant is not terribly important, but jeans work well to provide a little bit of buffer between when the snow hits your pants and when you can feel it through the sock/sack barrier. 

Step 5: Step 5 - Gettin Jiggy Wit' It

Picture of Step 5 - Gettin Jiggy Wit' It

The first foot was lonely. Be a doll and go make another one to keep it company, will ya?

Step 6: Shoes!

After a comment in which someone didn't realize that shoes are needed to complete the project, I am now demanding that you add shoes on top of your socks and bags!

Enjoy the snow!


Awesomeseven13 (author)2017-02-09

This did not work, your shoes become to small and it is sooo uncomfortable.

sclements3 made it! (author)2016-01-24

I took them off now but they worked! My feet were so warm and dry that when I took these off, the air in my house felt like a cool breeze. Ty for this!

flairness (author)sclements32016-01-25

Love it! So glad to see this!

sclements3 (author)2016-01-24

I'm going to try this! We have 20 something inches of snow out there #Blizzard2016 and my boots are MIA

zoep2 (author)2015-01-26

Thanks for the ideal, I will try this in the morning. It's an old school ideal I forgot thanks again.

bo88y (author)2011-03-14

This same technique works well WITH waterproof boots to keep your feet warm when you're working outside all day in extremely cold weather (below-zero to 20 degrees F above). It keeps the perspiration from your feet from getting the outer layer of insulation (the outer sock) wet and losing its insulative properties. The inner sock should be thin and the outer one thick. Half of a black plastic garbage bag, with the seam on top of your foot and the rest folded around your ankle, is more resistant to poke through than a shopping bag. But it helps to pull the bag and the outer sock down on the toe, to create some slack, and to wiggle your foot around inside the boot, to make sure that the bag isn't stretched too tight against your toes.

Your feet come out kinda nasty at the end of the day, but it sure beats frostbite.

kchristensen6 (author)bo88y2011-07-30

the bags the Subway sandwiches come in are awesome. have used them framing in portland when I was dumb enough to go to work with out waterproof shoe's

alaskabigfeets (author)2011-02-10

Good idea- May work in some areas where temps are higher- Here in Alaska
'Cotton kills" - Cotton is not a wicking material then wraped in plastic the sweat is trapped - and then freezes to sock and skin-
Dress socks and gortex - and a good winter boot -

Remember to do the buddy check when in the cold for long periods. Kids have smaller feet so they freeze faster- Keep the eye on th lil ones'

Good write up - good step by step

Keep going


mjtobin (author)2011-01-31

folks the best thing for both thermal and moisture protection is to have the plastic bag vapor barrier first against your bare foot then pull a sock over that. citation; robert wood, the 2 oz. backpacker, and my personal testimony.

Dr. T.

Broom (author)mjtobin2011-02-10

Good idea. Thx.

cilegray (author)2011-01-30

Y'all do know that using plastic bags is about the worst thing you can do for your feet. It does not allow for any breathing, so any condensation/sweat will stay on your feet and freeze em off.

Not the best idea.

Broom (author)cilegray2011-01-30

True. Your feet will freeze and fall off within a few minutes of touching them to snow.

It can also cause markets to crash, zombie Atlantis to rise from the sea, and large, painful blisters to erupt all over your bottom.

NatNoBrains (author)Broom2011-01-31

Wow. I probably shouldn't try this then?

Broom (author)NatNoBrains2011-02-10

No, you should DEFINITELY try this. Life without feet is a treat!

seabee890 (author)Broom2011-01-31

FORGET THE BLISTERS OR THE STOCK MARKET!!!! BUT ZOMBIES?!?!?!?!! noooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

flairness (author)Broom2011-01-31

Love it. Thanks! :D

Ninzerbean (author)Broom2011-01-31

This happened to a friend of mine's friend, it's true. And once I got an email warning me about it too.

schmiez (author)cilegray2011-01-31

Condensation (the verb not the noun) is a heating process. Evaporatoin is a cooling process. If your feet are sweating enough to form condensation, they will not freeze.

cilegray (author)schmiez2011-01-31

And condensation (the noun) is a phenomenon that happens when cold meets hot... IE your hot feet in cold shoes.

Guess there's a big difference between an american winter and what we get screwed with up north. -30 last night. I wouldn't be walking around in socks and bread bags.

schmiez (author)cilegray2011-01-31

True, and if I lived in a place where it got to -30, I would own boots!

armedtodream (author)cilegray2011-01-31

If your base sock layer is wool, these work just fine since the wool stays warm when wet. I don't think the author is suggesting this as a permanent solution as a substitute for boots or one for a long trek :-) I think it's a great idea in a pinch & have seen it used since I was a child without anyone having their feet freeze off :-)

iminthebathroom (author)2011-02-02

kinda like internal gators

I'm thinking you probably meant "gaiters" rather than "gators".

BIO Wolf (author)2011-02-07

In Canada its better to have some real boots, or some winter hiking boots, so you wont have your shoes drench in wetness. Even better if you have trail socks with it too.

NeverJuice (author)2011-02-06

:D I have the exact same socks!! Good idea!

lr10cent (author)2011-02-06

If you're going to be out for a long time, so that your feet might sweat, you can take this a step further. You'll need two pairs of thin socks and one pair of medium or thick ones, and 4 bags. I usually use 1 gallon food storage bags. Put on a light pair of socks, then a pair of bags, then the heavier sock, then a pair of bags, then the remaining light pair of socks. The light socks protect the bags from getting holes in them. The bags keep the thicker socks dry, whether the moisture is sweat or from the snow. Dry socks are much warmer than damp socks. Your feet may end up a little damp, but they'll be warm. Only worth it if you're going to be out for an hour or something.

osibisa (author)2011-02-06

very enjoyable, your low-tech instructable. And actually quite sophisticated. We used to just use ye olde bread bag over the sock, as kids, because the snow would just eat through boots of all kinds. The sliding-around-inside feel was rather like inner toboganning. secrets from the land of snow. :-)

iPodGuy (author)2011-02-01

Done that, works like a charm!

twighahn (author)2011-01-31

i did this when i was working as newspaper carrier and when i was homeless

rhkramer (author)2011-01-31

Is the intent to wear these without a shoe or boot? That will surely wear out a pair of socks pretty quick (maybe not in "pure" soft powdery snow), but if you encounter ice, or twigs (under the snow), or whatever. OTOH, your normal shoes might not fit on top of the socks and bags, and leather shoes would be very subject to damage from getting wet.

Sneakers you can let get wet and then dry later.

It just seems like the instructable is unfinished. If the intent is to use the socks without some sort of outer shell, I think it should say so. (Or say not, and why.)

seabee890 (author)rhkramer2011-01-31

ummm,,, i think that is why the pic of the snow covered sneakers and pant legs is the big pic on this page. Good point about the shoes if they are not big enough or tied toooo tightly they will cut off circulation and damage your feet easier. That is true of boots also, it is just harder to pull them that tightly.

rhkramer (author)seabee8902011-01-31



flairness (author)rhkramer2011-01-31

I was pretty clear in my intro that this is an "in a pinch" fix for not having snow boots :)

Tracyk007 (author)2011-01-30

Holy moly, you must not live in the midwest, we've been puting plastic bags in our boots since the 1930's. My mom thought Wonderbread bags were a substitute for gortex.

seabee890 (author)Tracyk0072011-01-31

OMG!! i had completely blocked out the bread bags!! now i need to call my therapist again. LOL!!! I still remember my mom not buying Roman meal because she said they used the hay as well as the grain. We never got to to -30 but i do remeber that if one of the socks was a quiter then it would be around the arch of your foot in about 9 steps. I wonder if the new "green Bags" that they are puching for veggies would work better or worse. And what happens if you turn gortex inside out?

flairness (author)Tracyk0072011-01-31

I'm from KC, that's where I learned it! :D

Sabata (author)Tracyk0072011-01-30

Yup, same here. My mom also shoved our feet in bread wrappers when it was really nasty out and our moon boots weren't warm enough or waterproof enough.

seabee890 (author)2011-01-30

great jpb retroing a generations known secret, it is amazing how these tricks get lost oone the way. My grandma and mother would have me and my sister(to her horror until it was proven that her friends would not see the plastic. ) when we could not afford snow boots. (yes i also know the recipe for tuna casserole) Works great for a day but be carefull not to wear them too long and get trench foot. Awsome ible, thanks for sharing.

flairness (author)seabee8902011-01-31

Thank you!

LateForTheSky (author)2011-01-30

What isn't being explained is you are creating a vapor barrier, which has an insulating power. Your body heat is trapped inside the plastic bag and first sock. The next picture should show you putting on your regular pair of shoes.

I've done this with plastic wrap. You can pull it tight around your leg and up to your knee.

Great idea to share. Thanks.

afhales (author)LateForTheSky2011-01-30

These are hillbilly bunny boots. Bunny boots have been used in the arctic by the military with great success. The principle is the same.

incorrigible packrat (author)2011-01-30

Down on the farm, as far back as oh, '89 or so, we used to use the plastic bags in our rubber boots, when our rubber boots would wear themselves to leaking. It wasn't so much to keep out the cold, (rubber boots being much colder than a witch's teat anyhow, no matter how many felt insoles or wool socks you had) as it was to keep out the cow$hit. Generally, the plastic bag would get a hole in it as well, so it was kind of an exercise in futility.

mobby666 (author)2011-01-30

In my days as a motorcycalist I used to use black bin bags as lightweight waterproofs. They worked a treat!

chorusofweasels (author)2011-01-30

In the movie "Runaway Train" Jon Voight and Eric Roberts prepared to escape the Alaska prison out in the frozen wilderness by first wrapping their bodies with big rolls of cellophane before putting on their clothes. Same principle. They died not from the cold but from defects of character and a self-imposed destiny of doom. Your instructable is more inspiring.

chabias (author)2011-01-30

Fond memories of using bread bags...especially after my snow boots got wet inside. I'd cover my feet/legs with bread bags, and put them right back into those wet boots!

jessyratfink (author)2011-01-30

Hahaha, my mom and grandmother always had us do this when we were little! We got a ton of snow in Louisville a couple of years ago and I did this to keep dry. :D

mgalyean (author)2011-01-30

When I was growing up in Kansas, Colorado, and Idaho in the 60s and 70s we often did the same thing with large "family size" bread sacks and calf high socks. Wearing a double layers of jeans, the outer baggier, would also help a lot as the outer layer would get stiff with ice and the inner would tend to stay dry. Back then we kept all kinds of bags and containers food came in just for uses such as these. Used to make toy flying saucers to play with using pot pie tins and staples etc. Then someone invented "moon boots" and everyone wanted a pair and the bread sacks accumulated without much use, lol.

jodi8727 (author)2011-01-30

When we were kids we used bread bags in our boots. Worked really well.

star folder (author)jodi87272011-01-30

Another use for the bread wrappers or plastic bags -- If you do have boots that go over shoes, and are a bit tight, the plastic helps them slip on and then off easily. Again, the plastic helps keep warm and dry, as boots that go over shoes are NOT warm. Even for boots that are to be warm,but are tight, the bags over the socks work. These 'tricks' are great for kids whose feet keep growing!

fly_boy_bc (author)2011-01-30

Here in Canada this knowledge was never lost. I had to do this last week when we had a record snowfall.

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