Top 25 SHTF Bartering Items You’ll Want to Start Stockpiling Today

We all hope that nothing catastrophic will happen in our lifetime. But we must also realize that we are just a small blip on a timespan of major events that have happened over the past centuries. And, more major events are sure to occur within our or our kid’s lifetime. The simple fact is that we all need to be ready.

There is nothing more heartbreaking than thinking about you or your family not being prepared for the worst — whether it’s marshall law, a catastrophic natural occurrence, EMP (electromagnetic pulse), solar flare that could put us back to the 19th century, or another type of disaster. Many lives will be lost. Not having some preparations made means you will not have anything of value for trading with others looking to stay alive.

Do you think that shiny iPhone or fancy sport car will be worth anything if there was a major disaster caused by an EMP or natural disaster? Believe me, they won’t!

So, be prepared by starting or adding to your stockpile with some of the most likely of items to barter with if something major occurs. In this article we have compiled a list of the top 25 barter items to keep in mind when prepping your stashes — all with trade and bartering in mind.


1) Cigarettes — I don’t smoke. Most of my family and friends also do not smoke. That’s a great thing, no doubt. But there are a lot of people addicted to cigarettes and the thought of going 1, 2, or 10 days without a cigarette will really be a bad scenario for many people. These people will be completely cut off from buying cigarettes, so there is a lot of barter potential if you have several or more cartons of the more popular cigarettes. Plus, cigarettes last for years and keeping them in a cool, dry place, preferably in a sealed container, should allow them to keep well for several years.

shtf-soaps2) Soaps (bars, gel, or similar) — In most any SHTF scenario people will still need life’s little necessities, like keeping themselves clean, even if it’s just washing up with a soapy cloth or jumping in a creek or river to wash off. Soap is and will be a great bartering item because most people will hate to be constantly dirty. Bars of soap, soft soap (gel), and even cleaning napkins or wipes will be a useful bartering item.

3) Bullets — Yes, bullets! You should have a good amount of ammo stored for your guns. In my opinion, everyone should have at least several handguns, like a .38, .40, .45, or 9mm calibers. These are the most popular for handguns. It’s also a great idea to have several rifles and store rifle ammo too. Common rifles to have include .223/556, .22, 12 and 20 gauge, and possibly .308 ammo. These types of ammunition will become excellent barter items.

4) Alcohol — Alcohol is a very important could be used for a lot of situations for a SHTF situation, such as its medicinal uses, for drinking (because many people will drink it to ease stress or tension). Vodka can be an awesome home remedy to counteract the reaction to poison ivy. Other alcohol has similar medical uses. A good book on alcohol uses would be a great thing to add to your stash!

5) Water bottles — A good water bottle could be worth its weight in gold. Remember the rule of threes: you can live three minutes without air, three days without water, and three weeks without food. For a good, long-lasting water bottle that you can heat (to purify or treat the water) we would recommend ones made from metal, like a stainless steel water bottle or similar. Heating a stainless steel bottle until boiling over a fire will kill 99.9% of the parasites in it.

solar-spark-lighter6) Matches, lighters, and fire making tools — Boxes of matches are inexpensive now. But wait until something bad happens. A box of matches could sell for 100+ times what it does now. We like the idea of stockpiling some matches and lighters. But to really make sure you can make fire for any amount of time, we’d definitely recommend something like a solar spark lighter or magnifying glass for around $14-15. All you need is sun and tinder to make a fire. And, if they get wet, just dry them off and constantly reuse. 🙂

7) Sugar or Honey — In the Great Depression sugar was something often discussed as an item that was hard to find. Imagine how easily it would be to trade a pound of sugar or some honey in exchange for something you may be running short on or just do not have yourself.

8) Toilet paper — Not much explanation needs to be given for this one. Leaves are fine in a pinch. But nothing beats that soft feeling of paper if you have it.

9) MREs or storage-type foods — MREs are portable and easy to trade on an one-to-one situation, i.e. I give you one MRE for one box of matches, and so on. MREs are also lighter in weight than cans of food, or buckets of food storage. Keep a variety of flavors and MRE meals to make sure you can change up the variety for yourself and your least favorite might just be the next person’s favorite.

10) Silver Coins —  Silver is great to have in a SHTF situation. But please keep in mind that if there was really a bad situation, we feel that any monetary item whether it’s paper, coins, or similar will never have the value of food, water, and bullets, among other things to barter with. But still a good idea to have some silver and cash on hand for bartering in the early phases.

11) Water Filters/Purifiers — Water purification drops and filters could be a real life saver in any bad situation. We really love the Sawyer water filtration system we wrote about some time ago. I actually have about 5-6 of these since it allows me to trade off 1-2 in case I need something really valuable in a SHTF situation. You might also get some great ideas from another post we did on water filtration.

12) Bleach — Bleach can be used to disinfect water, clean areas where you have prepared foods, like meats or other surfaces where bacteria could grow. Or, keep your living quarters and soiled clothing sanitized.

13) Batteries, wind-up, and solar-powered devices — Batteries can be used to power up flashlights, radios, and other electronic devices. Having access to a wind up radios, more specifically short wave radios, could mean you get important news or updates from Ham radio operators. A small solar panel could allow you to watch DVDs from your small TV or laptop. It’s amazing how watching movies can boost your morale and keep your spirits up. With these items mentioned, batteries would be the only likely items to consider bartering, unless you have extra solar charging panels or radios to spare.

14) Candles — Having emergency candles provides a great barter item for those in need of providing some light to their living quarters without electricity.

15) Bow saws, axes and hatchets — Having a way to cut wood is critical. Those living in the city, especially in apartments and condos will likely not have axes or hatchets at all. These tools will become an invaluable commodity when bartering for goods.

16) Portable Toilets or 5-gallon buckets — Many people will be up s#*t creek, literally. Joking aside, a portable toilet is the next best thing to digging constant, shallow holes to do your business in. A portable toilet can also be used inside and taken outside to dump. Same for a 5-gallon bucket with a lid.

400px-Cord_of_wood17) Seasoned Firewood — Wood typically takes about 6 – 12 months to become dried enough for home use. Some woods dry out a little quicker. But having access to and ability to barter wood will be in high demand. No cooking or staying warm will be had without it!

18) Lamp Oils, Wicks, Lamps, Coleman fuel — If you have a first choice, buy clear oil. If it’s scarce, stockpile any. Same goes for burning fuels for cooking, like coleman fuels. These will be valuable items to use for bartering.

19) Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots — No need to describe why these are needed. No one wants to thing about using these on others. But, if you have a family and children, then you will do anything to protect them. In my opinion, you cannot have too many of these things stockpiled for bartering.

20) Rice, Beans, Wheat — If you have dry storage means, then having lots of beans, rice, and wheat can be a valuable commodity to have when things go south. These are always in high demand.

21) Survival Guide Books — If you have a good bit of survival skills, then great. If not, then books are your next best thing. There are some great survival books. We talked about many in another post about the best survival and prepping books to get. Buy in doubles, threes, etc. Many people would trade something good for the knowledge to build or make something that is described in one of your survival books.

22) Washboards, mop bucket w/wringer (for laundry) — We have a couple of these. I have washed clothes with these several times and it’s not very hard to do. Washers and dryers will become useless without power. Do yourself a favor and get several of these. Someone will want to trade you along the way.

23) Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products — These items will be in need and the stores will be out of each of them. In my opinion, these types of items have a “half-life” after a SHTF scenario. What I mean by this is that they will matter for the first few weeks or month. But. if the situation worsens, then they will become less important for bartering. But they will still have value to some people giving the right circumstances.

24) Garbage Bags and tarps — It’s impossible to have too many of these. I have around 8-10 tarps of different sizes, from 5×8 ft. to 25×30 ft. Garbage bags have numerous uses, from helping to filter water to storage or covering. Either will make a great bartering tool.

25) Wood, glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws — The hardware store might not be totally wiped out of these things at first. But give any dire situation a month or longer and you’ll find that the stores are literally wiped clean. These items allow others to build temporary structures, or more permanent ones for gardening, an outhouse, shelter away from one’s home, and all types of other uses for prepping or bartering.

You Might Also Like