I use tube socks if I'm not putting up for a show. I buy a pack of them for 5 bucks, its usually 12 single socks or if I'm lucky find a bonus pack, and compared to a lycra tail sock, these are considerably less expensive. I cut the top of the sock (the part that has vertical lines in it) into 4 even pieces down to where the lines meet the "foot" area. Then proceed to wrap the braided tail just like with a lycra tail sock, tied below the tailbone, with 2 ties through the braided tail and tied around. Then I take sock off at least once a week to pick and recondition or wash as needed. I like to use the Extreme products detangler or cowboy magic.
I will also let the tail down for a few days here and there if the weather is nice or everything is frozen good.