Top Barter Items

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Top 12 Barter Goods for WTSHTF

Barter items for the post-cataclysmic world. Here we go:

  1. Ammo, Ammo, Ammo – Do I need to say it again? America is the most heavily armed nation in the world, but I seriously question how many people actually maintain an adequate supply of ammunition for those guns. Think about it, how many people do you know that go out and buy a few boxes of shells before hunting season starts? Exactly. They don’t have an adequate supply should SHTF. You can have all the guns in the world, but if you can’t load ‘em with bullets – they’re useless. When the Golden Horde of unprepared masses descend upon those holding something of value, it’s only those who can repeatedly pop these zombies in the dome that will find themselves forcing the Golden Horde to consider another house. Stock up on common calibers (.22, 9mm, .45, 5.56/.223, .40, 12 gauge and .308) and you’ll find yourself in high demand with people that need rounds. Now, the flip side of this is do you really want to give away ammunition that might be used against you? You’ll have to decide this depending on the exact SHTF circumstances. I trust you’ll make the right decision.


  1. Guns, Guns, Guns – Do I need to say it again? Yes, they’re expensive, but there are MANY people out there who are averse to owning a gun, but once TEOTWAWKI hits, their minds will quickly change. They’re expensive, yes, but I’m not advocating you stock up on AR-15′s to hand out in exchange for everything under the sun (though you could). I’m thinking more along the lines of used, single-shot 12 gauge shotguns that can be purchased for around $50. To someone that’s unarmed, a single-shot shotgun and a box of shells will be worth its weight in gold.


  1. Prescription Medications & Medical Supplies– Yes, this is a difficult one to stock up on, but if you come across them in the post-apocalyptic world – SNAG ‘EM. What do you think you could trade a bottle of nitro pills for with someone that has a heart condition? Exactly. If you require prescription medications I would strongly advise you consult with your physician about obtaining a few month’s extra supplies. First Aid supplies will also be greatly sought after items. Stock up on bandages, gauze, tape, rubbing alcohol/peroxide, etc.


  1. Water Purification Supplies – Does this really need an explanation? Filters, tablets, bleach, etc.


  1. Survival Garden  Seeds – This would be for the pro-longed SHTF situation. Their value will be infinite. Someone in your group should know how to start seeds, transplant seedlings, and maintain a garden. Make sure your seeds are properly sealed and stored or they will be no good to you.


  1. Fuel – We’re talking all types: gas, diesel, propane,kerosene,  firewood, etc. Can you have too much? No, so you’ll likely keep it for yourself, but if you DID need something that you hadn’t already acquired, fuel will be a great commodity for bartering.


  1. Survival Books – Books with good information will be huge. They’re EMP-proof and don’t require electricity to run (unlike the pc you’re using).


  1. Batteries – Stock as many as you can use while rotating stock and staying within the recommended life span. A better idea is to stock a few crank radios and flashlights. Solar panel materials are also great items to have, no matter how small, people will want to generate electricity.


  1. Soap, Bleach and Cleaning Agents – Your local grocery store won’t be open. These items are critical for maintaining health and hygiene. Don’t forget some extra washrags and sponges.


  1. Cast Iron Cookware – People that run out of fuel will be cooking over an open fire – situations that call for cast iron. Settlers used it for a good reason.  Lewis & Clark carried cast iron Dutch ovens with them all the way to the Pacific Coast and then back home again because cast iron cookware is invaluable!


  1. Garden and Hand Tools – Those left alive will suddenly become gardeners and carpenters, whether they like it or not.  This is how we rebuild society- from the ground up.


  1. Canning Supplies – How will people survive the non-growing season without these? If you have no power, and once your stockpile of freeze dried food is gone, you better have planted those Survival Garden Seeds we talked about, and then have the canning equipment (boiler, pressure cooker, jars, lids, recipes, pectin, sugar, vinegar, etc.) to be able to preserve some of that harvest by means of home canning.  Canning can seem daunting, but if you buy the Ball’s Guide to Canning and Home Preserving, it has a step-by-step guide and tons of recipes inside. Anyone can learn to can and preserve food. It really is easy to learn, you just have to be willing to try and to have the equipment on hand.

Some items I’d like to cover that are not included above:

  • Silver and Gold Coins – A lot of people advocate purchasing these for bartering purposes, but their value is entirely dependent on the situation . If you’re lost in the desert for 14 days, would you rather have a gallon of water or 4 bars of gold? Precisely my point.  However, having gold and silver coins as well as precious stones make great barter for things you may really need like food or medical supplies!  Stock up on some coins that you keep in your physical possession and is not registered with the government (i.e.- shop at your local pawn shops or eBay).
  •  Tobacco– people who are smokers will gladly trade to fill their nicotine addiction
  • Booze – Yes, alcoholics will do flips and twists for it when they run dry, but what will your typical alcoholic have to offer in trade?  Think about it. While I would appreciate a stiff shot of Jack Daniels post-Doomsday, I wouldn’t waste my time stocking up on it for bartering purposes. That being said, if you do drink, and you have a pantry stocked with food, it’d certainly be worthwhile to add the booze of your choice to the shelves and rotate stock.  I would consider keeping booze on hand for a disinfectant for wounds/water, and for quick Molotov cocktails if needed.

Remember: Shop in your pantry for dinner, shop at the store for your pantry.

  • Toilet Paper – Yeah, it has value, but when TEOTWAWKI hits, you’ll happily use leaves and magazines.  Store what you are able to, but don’t devote the entire garage to just toilet paper. Remember to store it in water-proof and varmint-proof containers.



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