Top 20 SHTF Barter Items…and Why.

By on February 24, 2015

Learning to Barter Will Be One of the Most Valuable Skills you could learn.

If people ever lose “faith” in the dollar other items will instantly take their place.  Trade almost always continues after a disaster because it is human nature.  People have to live and value is instantly instilled in items that either prolong one’s life or in some cases make life more tolerable.  Instead of putting your so called “money” in the bank you might consider “investing” in some or all of these items instead.  Heck, with the inflation we are actually experiencing, versus lost wages, compared to the .0001% the banks are paying, putting money in these items is truly making value for your bottom line.  If your personal situation turns even further south, you can always use these commodities.   Most of the items on my list can be bought now and stored.  Some items, like fuel, will disappear almost instantly and were left off the list. Some of them you might want to consider for after it begins.  This article lists some items that will be both popular and necessary in a grid down situation.


Toilet Paper-  Right now it is cheap and plentiful.  When SHTF TP will be known under a new moniker- “rolled gold”.  Backed by a large industry and delicate manufacturing process TP will be one of those items that will be difficult to bring back online.  You’d better stockpile it now or begin to practice other “methods” of achieving the same results. Toilet paper takes space, so it is best to purchase large stocks like this, or even check out this video on storing TP

Coffee- Do you know how much oil is in coffee?  Lots, it turns out.  How do you think it gets from South America to your cup?  In the can it will last a year or two past the “best by” date.  Instant coffee should last forever.

Salt- Ah, the savor of life.  Salt is Left off of nearly every SHTF barter list when it really should be at the top of them all. Besides adding flavor, salts primary use in SHTF will be to preserve meat.  Easily measurable, stores indefinitely, it may be the most sought after item when things shake out.  In reality, this commodity will be worth more than gold in SHTF, for now, it is truly an inexpensive prepping item purchased now.  Bought in bulk it is really cheap, twenty five pound bags can be had for less then a dollar a pound, check it out.  Also,  Click here for our article on salt to learn why.

Feminine Products-  They might as well have a picture of Ben Franklin’s head printed on them.  Beyond their intended use they can be used in wound dressing due to their absorbency and “sanitary” nature.  Try the Diva Cup instead and keep them for bartering.

Water Filters-   How many folks outside of the prepping community even know they exist?  Sure, they may have one in their refrigerator, but they probably don’t know what it truly does.  Once the hordes and masses become aware that their bodies require clean drinking water the water filter will become invaluable.  Do you have an extra water filter to sell to the highest bidder?

Freeze Dried Food- Yes, any type of food will be a barter item when SHTF, but Freeze dried food and MRE’s are something you can buy now and pretty much forget about until SHTF if stored in a cool dry place.

Power– Any method of electrical power will be in high demand.  Batteries, rechargeable batteries, small solar devices, anything that can utilize mechanical energy and turn it into electrical energy will be in high demand.  People will get creative and find ways to cobble together bits of this and that to create energy.  Any DC motor can be turned to create electricity.  Starter solar kits, like this one from Renogy, will get you a decent amount of power, they are definitely not toys.

Alcohol- Find it, buy it, make it, just get me some booze and fast.  Storing alcohol in it’s concentrated form (namely hard liquor) is probably the preferred method.  Knowing how to make it will make you a wealthy person in SHTF.  People are going to want to escape from reality and history has shown that alcohol is the escape of choice.

Honey and Sugar- Yes, I said honey and sugar.  Again, there is lots of oil in sugar.  While stockpiling sugar is wise, what happens when it runs out?  For those in the northern part of the country honey can be harvested locally and also lasts indefinitely.  The United States does produce a significant amount of sugar, but only in the southern States. Because it lasts pretty much indefinitely it can be hauled via horse and wagon BUT due to the limited ability to haul large amounts it’s value will skyrocket.  Bulk sugar is also a significant store of calories.  We are not suggesting that you rely solely in spoonfuls of sugar, but this 50lb bag contains over 87,000 calories alone.  Just like salt, when you move away from consumer packaging sugar and honey’s prices drop dramatically.

Ice- Ice?  Yes.  People are going to have to refrigerated perishables.  You can salt meat, but having ice on hand will reduce waste and spoilage and allow “fresh” perishables to be consumed before they go bad.  Having the ability to store ice will make you very popular in SHTF.  The guy cutting blocks of ice out of the lake all winter won’t be hungry come summer.

Antibiotics-  Millions of people living today are alive because of them.  While it is nearly impossible to stockpile antibiotics from a doctor there are several animal sources that do not require a prescription.  More importantly will be to learn which antibiotics treat which types of infections.  Once these run out there will be some huge problems.  Learn first and use at your own risk.

Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen- Many deaths in centuries past due to high fevers could have been mitigated if these two drugs were around.  At least for the first few years after SHTF stockpiled fever reducers will save many countless more.  I mention both because in extreme cases you may need to alternate between the two.  Click here to find out why.

Magnifying Glasses– What item fits in your pocket, requires no fuel, yet allows any moron to start a fire?  The magnifying glass.  Also, don’t forget the magnifying glass’s close cousin, the fresnel lens.  a Fresnel Lens like this one will fit next to your bug out bag’s water bladder.  It takes up nearly nothing in terms of space but will always start a fire when the suns out.

Yeast-  Yeast has a limited shelf life but will be necessary to satisfy our hunger for baked goods.  Keep an eye out as we are putting together an article on how to make your own.

Ammunition-  Think of ammunition as SHTF coins.  Stock up on common calibers for the most bang for your buck, .22, 9mm, .223, 7.62×39/54R, 12Ga., etc.

Tobacco- Vices are vices.  Addictive vices are worse.  It will be unfair to the addled addict what you will be able to trade for this item.  This is another item that is produced in very large quantities in the United States.  It’s initial worth will be tremendous but if trade begins to resume on a, even on limited basis, tobacco will be in every shipment.

Canning Lids- If salt is the SHTF equivalent of gold, then canning lids like these will be the closest thing to paper currency Cheap and easy to store canning lids can be bartered with even otherwise prepared preppers.  Stock up now and trade them like twenties later.

Non-GMO, Non-Hybrid Seeds- Storing food for barter is top of mind for any prepper, but again, once that food is gone, it is gone.  What next?  Things have to start over.   Companies like Family First ( a friend of the Ranch) offer vacuum sealed non-GMO seeds that will last 7 years if sealed.

Information- You know all of those how-to books you own?  While I am not really suggesting to barter the books themselves, I am suggesting that stocking up on how-to books now may pay huge dividends later.  Obscure situations that need solutions will pop up every day.  If you have a book that shows you how to solve one of these problems you may now barter your services for any one of the above items.  While not a replacement for the more “reliable” paper version, eReaders can store a library in a 6 ounce package.  We recommend the Kindle Paperwhite as a portable version of the books on your shelf.  Why?  It uses a different display technology than a typical tablet, allowing a single charge to last 6 or more weeks.  Even a simple Goal Zero can be used to charge it once a month.  Click here to check out our article on how eReaders might be invaluable.

OK, so it is only 19 items, but people like round numbers.  It doesn’t change the fact you will need them.  The above items will be the currency of choice when the SHTF.  As always, stock up on your needs first, but then focus on stockpiling one or more of the above to trade after the collapse.

Team DIYSL –

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