Guide to Bartering When SHTF- With List of Best Barter Items

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With the prices of goods and services rising we are seeing more and more people reverting to other means to pay for these goods and services. Bartering has become much more popular over the last few years with Craigslist, Facebook buy, sell, trade groups and many others. As the middle class disappears people are finding it much harder to get the things they need and want with conventional currency. If the economy were to implode and and the dollar became worthless a lot of people would have to resort to bartering just to survive in the chaotic world that would come. Bartering is nothing new, it has been a form of trade for centuries and will remain a form of trade for many more to come. In this guide we will take a look at what it takes to barter when shtf and what items will be best to barter. Lets start by talking about bartering itself and see exactly what it is.

What is Bartering and the History of it?

Barter is where people will buy goods or services in exchange for goods or services without using a form of money. As I stated earlier barter systems have been around for centuries in fact barter systems have been around even before money. Bartering goes all the way back to the Phoenicians around 6000 B.C. The Romans used a form of bartering too and it is said that they would pay their soldiers in salt as it was so valuable. This makes barter a tried and tested method of getting the goods you need during a shtf scenario.

A Bartering Strategy

chickens for bartering

When you're stocking up on items to barter for TEOTWAWKI its a good idea to have a plan set forth. Buying items in bulk is always a good idea so when going to buy groceries; you should look into buying from places like Sam's Club where you can buy food in bulk. This will keep a good stock of the foods you like on hand, cut down on costs and if things were to go bad you would have what you need and extra for barter. Whenever possible you should also stock up on items that won't go bad such as toiletry items, laundry detergent, batteries and ammo. If you find these items on sale at a good price you should pick some up to have for bartering. These items are great when you get them for a deal because its likely that prices will continue to rise and you can use them as you need to as well. As long as you keep these things stored properly they will last many years. When you're looking for items for bartering you should consider a few things such as usefulness of the item, shelf life, quality of the goods, and availability of an item in certain region for example tobacco products might be hard to find in my area after awhile but in places where it is grown often it might not be as valuable.

When you're going to barter there are a set of steps that you should take to make sure things go smoothly and safely. The first thing you should do is figure out what you need or want and what you can afford to part with. If you're looking to get a toothbrush, soap and gas you're probably not going to give up your only milk cow for that. Instead think of what would be a fair trade for the items you want and decide on an item or few that you are willing to give up. Another thing to consider is do you have a skill that you can offer to someone in exchange for those items. The next step is to find someone who is willing trade. This part can be a little difficult because you have to be careful in a shtf scenario. You don't want to tell some stranger about all the things you have because they might come back later and just decide to take what they want instead of bartering for it. So feel them out and when you have someone in mind confront them with the trade. This next step requires you to fully layout the trade you're willing to make in great detail. If they don't like the idea or are asking for more than you can part with just walk away from the deal. This will give you more control over the deal and they may be more willing to work with you, if not at least you're not jeopardizing your own survival.

List of the Best Barter Items When SHTF

There is a lot of discussion as to what items would be best for bartering after a shtf scenario. I personally think that a lot of the items that we use on a day to day basis that might not be available in abundance would make for great items to barter with. So lets take a look at the list of barter items that I've came up with.

Booze- Alcohol of any kind will be quite valuable during a collapse but liquors will especially be worth a lot. They are harder to make and have a wider variety of uses compared to beer or wine.

Tobacco- This is another one that I think will be a great item for barter. There are an insane amount of people who use tobacco in the United States I believe it will fetch a pretty penny during a collapse and that's why I've included it in my list of barter items.

Silver and Gold- These are something that you should be looking into now while prices are low so you can get a good deal with out totally breaking the bank. Silver and gold will always be a form of currency as they've proven through the centuries so having it in my list of barter items was an easy choice.

Soap- This can include dish soap, laundry detergent and shampoo. People like to be clean so when the supply runs out you may be able to make a good bargain on your soap bars.

Toilet Paper- Something most people take for granted now but when shtf TP might be a hot item. It serves multiple purposes too making it even more valuable.

Feminine Hygiene Products- A lot of ladies are going to want these.

Razor blades- These made the list of barter items because not only can they be used for shaving but can be used in a pinch to cut things making them valuable as a cutting tool.

Batteries- At first people will probably have their electronics powered up, but what happens when all of their batteries loose juice. They're going to wish they stocked up on batteries this will for sure be a great item to stock up on. Check out this article to learn how to store batteries.

Lighters and Matches- These are a must for anyone in a situation needing fire, which can boil water, cook food, provide warmth and boost morale. Lighters and matches should always be on your list of barter items.

Ammo and Magazines- Plenty of people have guns, but do they have enough ammo and magazines to make it through a collapse? Ammo and mags will also be a hot commodity during hard times and they would make for great barter items.

Food- Canned food, MRE's or freeze dried foods will be your best bet here, but food will no doubt be in high demand during a collapse.

Water- For sure water will be a great barter item. In a TEOTWAWKI event people will find it hard to get clean drinking water. Means of water purification will also be in high demand so things like life straws, purification tabs and even bleach will be great items to have too.

Candles- Candles of any type would be a great thing to have on you list of barter items because they are a good source of light and require not batteries.

Livestock- Animals like chickens, rabbits, cattle, horses and many others would be great to have if you are able to care for them because they are a renewable source of food and transportation.

Sewing Supplies- Having needles and thread or just sewing kits on hand will be great for bartering with people who need to mend some clothes.

Spices- These have been barter items for centuries and are a sure bet when shtf. Salt and pepper will definitely be in high demand.

Fuel- Sources of fuel like gas, diesel, propane and kerosene if you're able to store them will be good items to keep for bartering. People will need these to run generators, vehicles, lamps and even some appliances that run on propane.

Medical Supplies- Having a good stock of medical supplies would be a great thing to add to your list of barter items. Go for band aids, pain killers, allergy medicines, antibiotics, splints and first aid kits.

Paracord- Cordage of any kind will be a good barter item, but paracord has great versatility and will serve a wider range of people.

Hard Candy- Candy will be another luxury type item but would provide a moral boost and its cheap to buy now. People may be willing to pay a premium to get some candy when shtf.

Knives- I wouldn't trade away your best survival knife but there are plenty of knives that you can find on a budget. People who are less prepared will likely need a blade at some point during a TEOTWAWKI event.

Hand Tools- Like knives people will need hand tools to carry out any sort of projects. Also nuts, bolts, washers, nails and screws can be stockpiled for the same reason.

Duct Tape- The fix all item, duct tape is something you will definitely need on your list of barter items.

Bartering is no doubt going to be a big part of our lives if an economic collapse or shtf scenario were to happen. So its best to stock up on these goods now, in addition you should consider the skills that you have to offer and the skills that you can gain to make yourself more valuable when bartering. Hopefully this guide to bartering and the list of barter items will help you understand the importance of bartering and the items that will be in demand during a collapse. If you have any questions or have some that could be added to the list feel free to leave a comment down below. Thanks for reading and check out Preppers Unlimited again soon for more articles coming to the blog.


  • jef

    While alcohol does have many uses besides drinking on the most part the people trading for alcohol will be from people who will drink it. Questions to ask yourself do you want a drunk in your area? What will happen when your alcohol runs out? Will they take no for an answer or do something drastic?
    Next AMMO, the only time I would trade ammo is in very dire circumstances. The possibility of it coming back at you is to great.

  • wonder

    I wonder why you would barter something like booze, ammo, food , medical , live stock, fuel and water. Each of these is life in a grind down. Why would you let someone you know or others that can come back and take what you have. You just gave them the booze and ammo to work up the courage and then do it. All of these items are not renewable. I don’t know if I would be so willing to give up life for my children or family. If I was going to make a list of things to barter these items would not be on it. Barter labor, some small items that are needed like lighters, candles, clothes maybe water. I might be missing something in your train of though but if you are planning to survive why would you kill yourself?

  • Sandy

    Cigarettes would be a great item to barter.

  • Ben Leucking

    Regarding ammo as a trade item, I would limit it to people that I already know and trust implicitly. My preference would be to barter ammo in trade for game, such as rabbits, deer or birds that can be shared around a common cooking fire.
    I can’t think of any circumstance where I would be willing to trade away fuel. It has a short shelf life to begin with, and who knows when the refineries would be back in operation?

    I’m neutral on booze and tobacco, but if I can produce mead or beer for consumption or trade, then I’m in a much better position.

    In a full blown SHTF situation, I don’t see gold/silver have much value, since you can’t eat it; I certainly wouldn’t trade food for precious metals regardless of any surplus that I might have. If someone is crazy enough to accept coinage from me in trade for food, I’ll take that bargain, but not the other way around.
    Since I have my own well, I would be willing to trade water for food, fuel or services. In a grid down situation, fuel for generators would be a good swap for water.

    In rural communities I think some businesses would be willing to barter as long as their supplies lasted. Hardware stores come to mind, but with no network, telephones or delivery trucks, they would run out of materials pretty quickly. Mechanics would also be in a good position to barter, provided you can scavenge the parts needed to repair a vehicle.