Dec 22

Back To Basics: 5 Things You Should Stockpile For Bartering

Note from PJ:  This article is a guest contribution and while brief does touch on a good topic.  Lots of opinions floating out there about what to stockpile for bartering, or if one should even attempt to barter at all after something like SHTF.  Read the article and then post comments / opinions below.  Thanks!


As a student of life you probably already have a basic idea of the barter system. If you are getting ready for its advent in the near future, you need to start stocking up as soon as you can. The items you stockpile have to actually be useful for bartering with. Before you go out and buy gold by the truckload, stop and think.

What do you need?

Ask yourself what exactly you are looking for in a barter trade. If your plan is to trade something you have for something you don’t, it would be easier to simply get the item you won’t have right now, wouldn’t it? Well, this is true but it simply can’t be done for everything. You would have to have a pretty massive space (preferably underground) if you wanted to store all the items you think you would need when the collapse of the economy occurs.

5 Necessary Items

There are some items that are extremely valuable when it comes to bartering, such as guns and ammunition. In a world without law and order, you are going to have to be able to defend yourself after all. While the 5 items listed below probably won’t get you weapons or ammunition, they are going to help you immensely in the fight for survival that is soon to come. All you have to do is make sure you store these for a “rainy day”.

1 – Food: This is one of the hardest to get out in the untamed world. There will be people who don’t have enough food to survive. Of course, some decent folk will probably give up their food to help a family in need. For the most part though people will be trading out their essentials in exchange for food. If you are lucky enough, you could probably get a weapon in exchange for a big portion of your food supply.

2 – Water: Potable water is one of the most important things in a post-apocalyptic world. Diseases are the biggest risk factor after a natural disaster occurs and there isn’t enough healthcare to go around. The water supply quickly becomes contaminated, especially if a factory nearby collapses and starts leaking waste into the nearby rivers. Thankfully, you can stock up on water filters to clean the water supply for you. Trading these can be the difference between life and death for a lot of people.

3 – Ammunition: This is more expensive than gold in a new world without currency. Ammo is going to be at a premium soon enough, as people struggle to stay alive and defend themselves. For every community of decent, peaceful people, there are bound to be bands of criminals, murderers, rapists and thieves roaming around.

4 – Antibiotics: Medication is going to be one of the hardest things to stockpile. You are going to have to steal the better painkillers from a hospital if you really need them at the time. For now, try buying over the counter antibiotics and painkillers for the bad injuries.

5 – Candles: These are going to be far more valuable than you think. The power grid is going to go down. There isn’t going to be electricity. People are going to need candles instead. If you can figure out how to make them, you are going to be wealthy.

There are tons of other items you can stockpile. However, think about priorities and get the essentials first. These are bound to be the most valuable.


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    • Linda Smith on December 22, 2015 at 11:10 PM
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    Not sure how I feel about bartering. Seems it could open a door to possibly the wrong people. I certainly would never give anyone a weapon, ammo or liquor. I’ve worked around enough drunk people to know they are not known for making wise decisions. Arming someone who could turn those arms against you seems senseless. It would be hard to turn away hungry or sick people but where do you draw the line in protecting your own? Just one of those things I will have to face if the time comes.

    • Roger on December 24, 2015 at 10:29 PM
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    I definitely wouldn’t be trading/bartering with arms and/or ammo, knives maybe! Grain alcohol is always iffy, but rubbing alcohol would be good, many uses. Antibiotics don’t have a real long shelf life and you’ll probably need all you can get for you and yours, fish antibiotics are a good choice; no doctor’s signature needed. Large containers of basic pain meds. are available at Cosco or Sam’s Club, but will need small containers like snack baggies to trade off small amounts at a time (10-20 pills) at a time. Scarcity (real or not) can increase value, so pulling out a 500 pill bottle is poor salesmanship! And, don’t forget large bottles of multi-vitamins, very helpful in a long term restricted diet situation! Water storage for barter might be a good choice but make them provide the container; a 55 gallon barrel takes up a lot less space than 352-20oz plastic bottles! As for storing food for barter, I suggest less-than-savory ‘treats’ like life-boat rations. As Crocodile Dundee said: you can eat it but it tastes like shit! Not something I’d probably be willing to fight for! Candles are good but don’t forget matches and/or lighters; rubbing two sticks together is iffy in the best of weather conditions! Other good barter items are sewing kits, boot laces/leather straps, vegetable seeds, even socks and underwear! Good luck and Happy Prepping! (GLAHP)

    • Erik J on January 4, 2016 at 1:30 PM
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    IMHO, I foresee bartering not starting to occur 30-60 days into a crisis. The dust needs to settle and people/groups are going to be in a defensive posture until the initial panic subsides which is not a good environment to be trading. Second, it will take people a little bit to get a feel for possible places/people where trade might occur that haven’t been overwhelmed from the violence/looting that will occur from the desperate masses.

    I would considering stocking the following in addition to the great list above: Tobacco products, alcohol mini-bottles “nips”, salt and additional lifestraws/sawyer filters. While the first two aren’t essentials, they will definitely be desired following SHTF and will have a trade value accordingly. Salt has been a valuable commodity for a millennia and stores almost indefinitely. The water filters are a little more pricey but would you rather trade with an individual once for clean water or every day?

    • gone on January 10, 2016 at 11:08 PM
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    Never barter ammo, it will get you killed. Never barter the same thing twice. Never barter anything but tiny amounts.

      • PJ on January 13, 2016 at 8:17 PM
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      I’ve bartered ammo many times. I’m still alive?

        • Tom on February 22, 2016 at 4:25 AM
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        I think he is referring to a collapse situation. He has a point. Why barter away a bullet to a strqnger that can be used against you later. Obviously if you know and trust someone that’s different.

      • Belinda on April 19, 2016 at 6:51 PM
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      Why do you say to never Barter the same thing twice?

    • SittingElf on January 14, 2016 at 10:26 AM
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    My family will initially bug-in within our gated community which is somewhat separated from mass population. We’ll leave only if the situation becomes extremely dire.
    Our neighbors are prepping along with us, and we have defined specific skill sets amongst ouselves that cover many of our survival needs. Neighbors include:
    -A retired Marine Master Sergeant who’s son is currently active duty Marine as well.
    -A Pharmacist who will have instant access to supply a mass of drugs and other items for local storage when the SHTF.
    -My Wife, who is an active duty Air Force Colonel and Critical Care Nurse.
    -Myself…a former Army Officer who was connected with Special Ops
    -A couple who spent a great deal of time in Africa, teaching efficient gardening and food production techniques, with the added benefit of being a golf course frontage house on a fairway that would become a great veggy gardening plot if necessary.
    -Multiple other veterans in the neighborhood, and some of Cuban descent who are vociferously anti leftists!
    – There are other skills as well, including woodworkers, electricians, and solar experts.

    We live on the Atlantic Coast in Florida, so our primary concern is hurricanes. The last one that did extensive damage was Andrew, and the Southern tip of Florida was decimated, not recovering for many, many months. That being said, we are also concerned about nefarious incidents, attacks, disasters, tyranny and epidemics, and as such are prepping for multiple scenarios.

    We have fields of fire determined and ranges marked. Our firepower is sufficient to resist marauders beginning at more than 1000 yards with clear shots. We train at a very extensive range near our neighborhood, and we have an alternate bug-out area to regroup if necessary.

    We believe gold and silver will be virtually worthless for bartering within 3-6 months of SHTF. You can’t eat it, grow it, shoot it, or use it for bartering if the people you are trying to trade with don’t have a use for it or want it. It will work initially based primarily on the belief that all will be well soon, but once it becomes clear that the grid is not coming back online anytime soon, it will lose its luster, and its value as a trading commodity.

    Most of us have our long-range preps pretty much covered, and only adding or replacing as necessary, or as new products become available. So…our concentration now is on buying and storing barter items for outside our community, and I list some of those below that we believe will be in high demand to trade for goods and services that aren’t generally mentioned in articles on prepping….

    1. .22LR Rimfire Bullets! The reason is that 22 cal guns are EVERYWHERE and extremely useful for small game hunting, and to a lesser degree, defense. The reason they are so valuable is that they can’t be reloaded, so once shot, the brass is useless, unlike bigger calibers that can be reused repeatedly (I personally reload six different calibers and have the brass, bullets, powder, and equipment to last for many years). When the unprepared run out of 22’s, the supply is going to get even more limited than what we experienced the last couple of years. I have stocked more than 25,000 rounds of the 22LR, bought in Remington,s Bucket of Bullet bulk loads and stored properly. Buy them as you see them available in Academy, Bass Pro Shops, and elsewhere. .223, 5.56, 7.62, and 9mm bullets will be tradeable, but will always remain available in large numbers, so their barter value will be appropriately lower than bullets that are not so readily attainable.

    2. SCOTT Toilet Paper (Single Ply). My Attic has over 1000 rolls stored. The reason I say Scott over other brands is that they are more environmentally friendly as single ply, and will break down quickly either in the outhouse, or in the compost pile. Those rolls will be very valuable when the SHTF for more than a couple of months and folks start having to use leaves, newspaper, old cloth, or god forbid, their hands! I know if I didn’t have any, that I’d trade food or services for the ability to wipe my behind without pain, marks, or “leftovers”! LOL!

    3. HEIRLOOM Seeds. Forget the hybrids. They are grown once, and then done. The Heirlooms will produce viable seed, producing essentially the same plant repeatedly. Buy and store them NOW! We have stocked a very large variety of these seeds for both our use, and for barter

    4. AA, AAA, and CR2032 batteries. Now that Duracell and others have a shelf life of a minimum of 10 years, it only makes sense to purchase bulk batteries for later barter. We rotate the oldest ones each year and replace with new…and in large quantities, bought whenever there is a sale on them in the warehouse stores.

    5. Soap….and lots of it. Doesn’t really matter what brand, but I’d suggest unscented as it will be somewhat generic for trading.

    6. Shampoo…. We have been buying those hotel-type shampoos that are good for 1-3 uses. Easy to store, and can be used for barter without having to trade full-size bottles.

    7. Liquor….NOT beer. Alcohol has SO many uses in addition to drinking, though that is also very important. We are stocking various full liter bottles, the mid bottles, and the mini airline types for barter and other uses. There will come a time when liquor is one of the most valuable commodities you can have to trade.

    8. Playing Cards. We are storing 12-pack loads of playing cards for barter when there’s no internet, phones, or electricity, and folks need something to keep them entertained. We have stored 200 decks for barter.

    9. WD-40 and Lubricating Oils. Essential for keeping tools, equipment, and other items properly maintained and lubricated. We buy a LOT in the warehouse stores for barter later.

    10. Tobacco and rolling papers. Packaged cigarettes will be long gone in short order, but bulk smoking tobacco can be stored and traded with rolling paper much cheaper than the packs. Smokers will trade almost anything for their habit.

    There are many other items that we have been hoarding for trade, but the 10 listed above are among what we think will be the most valuable non-food/water commodities as time progresses without the comforts we have become accustomed to while the world is operating normally.

    Cheers…and remember to Duck and Cover!

      • Handtalker on March 25, 2016 at 10:53 PM
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      Seems like you are gonna be sitting pretty. I’m green with envy.

    • Rich Monteith on January 20, 2016 at 4:16 PM
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    Adding to SittingElf’s list:
    I will be stocking tobacco seeds. Tobacco is easy to grow and age. As a bartering item, it could be exchanged as seed, plant, green or dried leaf…I may also build up a supply of cheap tobacco pipes since it would be easier to smoke from a pipe than roll cigs.

    I will also stock up on yeast…
    A cheap yet tasty wine can be made from 100% fruit juice, sugar and yeast. Kind of like jail house hootch but still effective!

    I live in wine and apple country here in Michigan and am surrounded by vineyards and apple orchards, so I imagine I will have a steady supply of fruits and juices. I may even look into a still for a post apocalyptic world.

      • SittingElf on January 21, 2016 at 3:22 PM
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      Yeast has a relatively short shelf life…even in the packages.

      That being said, you don’t need store-bought yeast. You can make your own easily. Just google “how to make your own yeast” for an easy, unlimited and uninterrupted supply!

      One more thing we’re adding to our list….SUGAR. LOTS AND LOTS of GRANULATED white and brown SUGAR!

      Cheers….and remember to Duck and Cover!

  1. Toilet paper should be on this list too! I don’t think too many people would’ve thought of stocking up on that and when it becomes a scared commodity it’ll probably be worth so much! Any plans to update this list?

      • PJ on February 5, 2016 at 11:35 PM
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      Good call on the TP, I have loads of it. One can truly live without it (as we did for thousands of years) but these days it does feel like to use some soft cotton wipes vs a leaf or simply water and a hand.

    • Rebecca on March 25, 2016 at 1:56 PM
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    Toilet paper worries me. And all the paper products that I use every day. Tissues (I blow my nose a couple times per day!) and even feminine hygiene products.

    I have stocked up on these reusable “family cloth” is what they are called. I have a set of 12 for #2 and a set of 30 for #1 currently, but as I see them on sale then I will grab more.

    I have menstrual cups (extras for bartering) and also menstrual cloth as well. When I see them on sale, then I stock up. Especially if you have young girls now, you want to check out the reusable menstrual cloths because they won’t want to be putting a menstrual cup inside themselves at that young age. (12-13).

    Here is an example of family cloth, reusable toilet paper. What we have decided is to only use our stockpile of toilet paper for #2 until it runs out, and use the cloth for #1

    I also have gotten handkerchiefs for blowing my nose. We have reusable kitchen towels which will replace paper towels if the time comes. I should look into cloth napkins as well.

    All those things would be good barter items, because if you barter reusable items, they won’t be coming back to you looking for more….

    I was nervous at first about washing them, but then after many YouTube videos and experiences that my friends told me, it seems pretty simple. Especially if you have a washing machine (who knows if we will have them) but I have a hand washer as well that can use boiling water so I feel comfortable either way I need to clean them.

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