Dec 17

Valuable bartering items you should stock up on

I recently wrote about how after T-SHTF there will be a need to barter in order to survive. Even those who have stocked up for years will find themselves in a position of want at some point (circumstances do not always play out according to plan), and the need to barter will then become apparent. Here are some items you should consider adding to your stash.

Lighters. Cheap to buy and easy to store but absolutely invaluable for barter. Additionally think about stocking up on butane and zippo lighter fluid.

Infant Formula. Obviously important when it comes to supplemental nutrition for babies.

Vodka. Easily the most popular liquor out there. In addition to consumption, check out all of these other uses for Vodka.

MREs. Well recognized as a source of food, easy to store and transport. Keep a few cases on hand so that you can trade individually for other items which you might need.

OTC Medication (Cold and flu, Aspirin, Tylenol). Medication will be in short supply after T-SHTF, pharmacies will be cleaned out in quickly leaving the general populace wanting. Basic OTC medication which will help to relieve aches and pains or flu symptoms will definitely be in high demand.

Toothpaste. One of the few things that can help to make you feel human after long periods of time living in austere conditions. Toothpaste is cheap to buy and easy to store in high quantities.

Small hand sanitizer bottles. A great hygiene item which is easy to store and will be very valuable as a barter item. With a lack of clean running water in some areas small bottles of hand sanitizer will assist in maintaining basic hygiene.

Bottled Water. While cases of Dasani might not be high on your priority list when it comes to long term water storage, think about how easy it will be to trade a few bottles for something you might need. When people get desperate for water they will be willing to do just about anything to get it.

Drink mix (Starbucks Via and Crystal Light). Drinking water (and nothing else) can get old very quickly. Being able to spice up water with a drink mix will not only be a good part of your prep strategy, but others will recognize this as well and be willing to trade for it.

Candles. How many candles do you have in your home? 10? 20? Now think about the average person, they probably have 4 half burned Glade scented candles which will last about a week after the lights go out.

Popular ammunition. (223, 9mm, 22LR). As the old saying goes, bullets will be gold after T-SHTF. Break up your barter ammo into packs of smaller amounts (20, 50, 100) which will assist in the transaction process. Also I would buy the cheaper stuff for barter, no need to trade away your match grade ammo.

Coffee. Most definitely high on the “must have” list, I wrote about it in this post.

Candy. Believe it or not when you go for long periods of time without much in the way of decent food you end up craving little things like bags of Skittles, or Starburst candy. Candy can go a long way in a barter situation.

Condoms. People will still be having sex after T-SHTF and they will want to avoid pregnancy at all cost.

Flashlights / Batteries. While you might have a few Surefire’s for yourself, what do you have to trade? Stock up on some cheap Wally World plastic flashlights with Rayovac batteries which you can use for bartering purposes. Most people have 1 flashlight in their home, and once the D batteries run out they will have nothing to replace them with.

First Aid kits. First aid supplies in general will be great to have, but stocking up on a few cheap “all-in-one” kits would be even better.

That’s all I could come up with for now, what did I miss and what do you have that should be added to this list?


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    • JM on December 17, 2012 at 10:23 AM
    • Reply

    All good items.

    Just some things I have thought of:
    Chewing gum – It kind of falls in the “candy” category, but I would bet it’s a big item.
    Tobacco – Don’t judge, but people will basically kill for it now, what do you think they will give you after they can’t get it. Buy some cheap cigarettes and chewing tobacco and put them back.
    Chap Stick – I think it will be a big item when people are living on the run.
    Services – I think the trading of services will be big, especially after an extended amount of time. If you have a great deal of medical background you will be able to trade medical treatment for goods. As well as other specialities.

      • PJ on December 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM
      • Reply

      Great point about Tobacco, cigs and cans of dip. I just don’t know about the shelf life of such items? In other words if I were to pick up a few hundred bucks worth for bartering I’d hate to see it all go bad in a year.


      • Jennifer on June 22, 2015 at 2:31 AM
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      Found this amazing app on the app store Salt Bartering ( where I traded many of my old stuff with my neighbors. The best part is the app will intelligently and automatically find the best matches for my items. You have to try it.

    • JM on December 17, 2012 at 11:26 AM
    • Reply

    I dip, the self life is not that great on snuff (one to two months), but it can be greatly increased if kept refrigerated. Cigarettes, I would say would be OK for quite a while, they are a dried good.

  1. Ramen Noodles. I can get them for 15 cents a pack. It’s not a lot of food, but when someone is hungry, I think they will be glad that I can provide them with a few packs to keep them going.

      • PJ on December 17, 2012 at 1:58 PM
      • Reply

      Yes I agree, a quick meal and easy to store (and super cheap). Noodles with what amounts to a packets of dust that you sprinkle on top, but oh so good when it’s cold outside.

    • Ranger W on December 17, 2012 at 3:58 PM
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    I encourage people to do some youtube level research on how to distill right on your stove. Not only would this be great for purifying water after SHTF, making hard liquor is really easy and will be a real cash crop after.

    • Seryus on December 21, 2012 at 4:39 PM
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    I can’t believe no one has said toilet paper! Although I must confess I’d rather keep this for myself… add other hygiene items like bar soap, toothbrushes, etc.

      • PJ on December 21, 2012 at 5:34 PM
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      Totally agree, TP is essential! Good point.

    • bigpaul on January 6, 2013 at 12:24 PM
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    i dont agree with bartering ammunition , why would anyone barter something that the other person can then use to rob you of all your supplies??

      • PJ on January 6, 2013 at 12:43 PM
      • Reply


      I guess it all depends on what you are comfortable with. In my opinion there would have to some sort of screening process which would take place, which would determine who I would exchange goods with and what those goods might be. Following your logic, why barter at all? This would be a signal to anyone else that you have supplies and would open you up to being robbed.

      Personally I see no problem with trading a few boxes of 5.56/9mm in exchange for food or toilet paper. It’s not like I’d be handing over a crate of ammunition to any one party. Two boxes of 5.56 is 40 (or 60 depending on the type) rounds, they would need a heck of a lot more than that to “rob me of my supplies.”


    • bigpaul on January 6, 2013 at 1:11 PM
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    personally i wont barter with anyone, i dont trust anyone else enough, i think in a post TSHTF situation i dont see how we will be able to screen anyone.

    • BigJon on January 6, 2013 at 4:56 PM
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    Distilled liquor is a good idea because you can run some vehicles,generators ETC.
    you can also use it to clean wounds.

    • susy b on January 7, 2013 at 10:03 PM
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    something to make women still feel like they are….. makeup. theyve got dollar makeup. could be a real self booster when you need it. guys might enjoy it too. just a little “normalcy”.

    • justanother on May 24, 2015 at 3:19 PM
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    Bartering ammo and alcohol is a bad idea…keeping it on hand in quantity sure why not ,, but not for barter…

      • PJ on May 26, 2015 at 7:18 PM
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      I suppose, there are those who say if you barter ammo away people can use it against you. As if….there aren’t enough people with enough guns and ammo out there who could use those items against you anyways. All items have value, ammo might have more value and if I need to make a large enough trade I’ll be damn sure to include ammo. To each his own.

    • James on July 31, 2015 at 9:25 AM
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    The Hudsons Bay Company had the essentials for barter down pat. They wanted furs so they bartered tools, traps and ammunition to make it easier for their clients to get them. They also bartered food staples, tea, tobacco, tools like axes and knives, sewing supplies, fire making supplies, cordage, clothing, bedding and waterproof materials plus cooking pots.

    Some of the unscrupulous “sub-contractors” used alcohol as a negotiation technique to lower the resistance of their clients…free sample first then you have to trade to get what you want. There were stories of horrible atrocities carried out in exchange for a bottle. As far as I know, the official policy of the Hudsons Bay Company was that it did not use alcohol as a trade good.

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