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8 Uses for Trash Bags on Trail

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Nov 12, 2019 05:55 PM |

And here you thought trash bags were just for trash.

The common household trash bag is often overlooked when it comes to things you put in your backpack for a hike, but we’ve got a few uses for them that you may not have thought about before. Here are 8 ways you can get the most out of your trash bags on your next outing.


Pack liner

Don’t have a waterproof pack but need to keep your gear dry? Try putting a bag inside your pack and putting your items inside the bag.

Pack liner

Pack cover

For those of you who’d rather keep the water off your pack, try creating a wrap using the trash bag. This can take some practice, so it’s best to try this at home before attempting it in pouring rain. While it likely won’t be perfect, it can help keep water from completely soaking your bag’s contents.

Dry bags (sort of)

Even though it’s hard to make trash bags airtight, they can be used to keep specific items dry, like sleeping bags. Using a little tape can help keep the roll more secure and less likely to leak. 


Pop a few holes in that sucker and wear it like it’s Paris Fashion Week. Remember, confidence can carry the look. Wear it with pride.

Rain skirt

Cut along the bottom seam and use the drawstring on kitchen garbage bags to cinch around the waist. Perfect for keeping your legs from getting drenched and cold as water runs off your jacket. If you think you might want to invest in a rain skirt, this is a great way to test the waters.

Waterproof seat

No assembly required! Lay the bag down on wherever you want to sit to keep your butt dry. Sadly, no padding is included to keep it warm, too.

Tarp and tent pad

Keep the bottom of your tent or ground pad dry by laying out a couple trash bags under it in the event of an unforeseen downpour. You can also use sticks or poles to make an emergency tarp if you’re desperate to get out of the rain. 

Trash bag tarps are great in a pinch.
Trash bag tarps and ground pads can work great in a pinch (and even help keep sand out of your gear). Photo by Grady Olson.

Trash bag

What, you thought we’d leave it off the list? Remember to pack your trash out on every hike!

Ultra-heavy hikers practice their agility with supersized packs of trash from trails. Even non-humans can get behind this method of weight training. Photos by Kelsie Donleycott and Ken Donleycott.


Rluthi on 8 Uses for Trash Bags on Trail

Heavy duty trash bags can also be used as 'waterproof pants' for glissading down steep slopes.

Posted by:

Rluthi on Nov 13, 2019 08:43 PM

Zacharywta on 8 Uses for Trash Bags on Trail

I. Love. Trashbags.-- stretchy ones, crinkly ones, soft ones, tall ones, short ones, thick ones, thin ones, green ones, white ones... the type with draw strings, the type with the flappy bits to tie together. The uses are endless and they all have their special character. The only kind I don't like are the scented type(why??). I've used the same contractor trash bag for three seasons now. We've seen a lot together. It will probably meet its end one day when I come across a bunch of trash, or when it is covered with so much pitch I can't touch it any more.

Posted by:

Zacharywta on Nov 14, 2019 08:07 AM

austineats on 8 Uses for Trash Bags on Trail

Two years ago, on a cold and wet hike in Utah, we came across a hiker with a badly broken leg. Completely underprepared for the situation that she was in we used two construction weight plastic bags that we had to get her out of the direct rain. Those bags likely saved her from extreme hypothermia if not her life.

Posted by:

austineats on Nov 14, 2019 09:48 AM

LizzyRN on 8 Uses for Trash Bags on Trail

I've used mine to collect those colorful little dog poop bags that people drop everywhere. You know the ones that folks don't want to carry but think the rest of us like to look at. The thick bags can keep some of the stink contained....sort of.

Posted by:

LizzyRN on Dec 08, 2019 05:59 AM