cheap items that will be valuable when SHTF

19 Cheap Items that Will Be Valuable when SHTF

One of the biggest things that hold people back from starting with disaster prepping is that prepping is too expensive

Yes, stockpiling an entire year’s worth of disaster supplies can take a big toll on your budget if you try to buy everything at once.  However, I truly believe that creative thinking is one of the most important prepping skills.

When you think outside of the box while prepping, you realize that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on supplies.  For example, you could stockpile cheap items and use them to barter for necessities like food and water.

None of us knows what will happen when the SHTF during a disaster situation.  We can only do our best to imagine possible outcomes and prepare for the worst.

In a SHTF situation, the following 19 cheap items will likely be in high-demand.  So you should consider stockpiling them along with your everyday preps so you are prepared to barter for anything you need during a SHTF disaster.

1. Fish Antibiotics

As I talk about in this post about the Disaster Problem No One Wants to Talk About, disasters almost always lead to disease outbreaks due to the crowded, unsanitary conditions.  Antibiotics will be needed to combat diseases.

Most doctors won’t write a prescription for “just in case” antibiotics.

However, you can legally buy fish antibiotics and keep them as part of your disaster preps.

Here’s more info on How to Buy Fish Antibiotics.

2. Lighters and Matches

With the grid down, people will need to heat their homes and cook with fire.  And what do you need to start a fire?  I couldn’t find any stats on how many people have matches and lighters at home, but I’m guessing that most people are severely under prepared.

Lighters and matches are very cheap and take up little space, thus making them one of the best cheap prepping items to stockpile.

3. Female Hygiene Items

My wife started using a menstrual cup a long time ago, so we don’t have to stockpile female hygiene items.  Most women don’t use one of these though, so they are going to need lots of pads and tampons.


4. Disinfectants

Disasters cause disgusting, unhygienic conditions.  Disinfectants will be in high demand.  I’d recommend stockpiling bleach because it is cheap and can be used for disinfecting water.

See How to Disinfect Water with Bleach here.


5. Batteries

Batteries are a bit pricier, but worth stockpiling because they will be so valuable.  Note that batteries will be virtually worthless if an EMP disaster strikes because all electronic devices will be fried.  Consider using a Faraday cage for your important survival electronics.

For other types of disasters, consider getting rechargeable batteries and adding a rugged solar charger to your preps.


6. Cooking Oil

As someone who goes backpacking frequently, I can tell you how much of a difference a bit of oil makes to meals.  I carry a small squeeze bottle of oil to add to my meals.  It makes them taste better, prevents food from sticking to the bottom of the pan, and also adds important dietary fats.

7. Face Masks

Remember 911? People are still dying from the terrorist attack because of asbestos and other hazardous materials they inhaled.  A simple face mask (aka respirator) would have prevented many of these deaths.  N95 face masks are very cheap, take up little space, and will be very valuable when SHTF.  Put some in your bug out bag and keep extras stockpiled at home. Read about N95 respirators for disaster prepping here.

8. Pain Killers

Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, and aspirin will all be necessary for reducing pain that comes with disaster-related injuries.

Don’t forget about tooth pain!!!  I’ve talked to a lot of war and disaster survivors and one thing they mention is that dental hygiene usually goes to hell in SHTF situations.  Tooth pain is hellish.  I’m betting that people would trade you buckets of food for some cheap tooth gel!

Recommended readingPreppers Emergency Dental Kit

9. GI Medicines

All first aid items are going to be in high demand after a disaster.  However, GI problems are the most common ailment after disasters (from the unhygienic conditions and drinking untreated water).  If you are going to focus on one first aid item to stockpile for bartering, make it GI meds. Here is a decent list of OTC GI medicines.

Recommended reading – Homemade Diarrhea Remedies


10. Plastic Tarps

Plastic tarps are one of the most diverse and useful survival items.  There are many uses for tarps, like making shelters, boarding up broken windows, and collecting rainwater.

11. Vinyl Gloves

You’ll need heavy-duty gloves for sorting through rubble and debris.  But those super cheap nylon gloves will also be important for treating wounds, changing bucket toilets, and much more.  You can buy entire boxes of gloves for just a few dollars.

12. Candles

For bonus points, stockpile string for candle wicks and make your own candles out of used wax.

13. Sewing Kits

You can get mini sewing kits at the Dollar Store.  These will be important for fixing clothes, backpacks, tarps, and sleeping bags. The needles in the kits can be used for all sorts of things from removing splinters to sewing up a wound (in extreme cases).  Note that I use dental floss instead of thread for sewing because it is waterproof and stronger.  But those cheap sewing kits are still great for bartering.

14. Toilet paper

This one should be obvious.


15. Water Purification Tablets

Water Purification Tablets are great SHTF barter items because they are so small.  You can carry them in your Bug Out Bag and use them as currency.

16. Bullets

In addition to stockpiling bullets, you might want to learn to make your own ammo.  For more on that, read How to Find Ammo when SHTF.


17. Sterile Bandages

You can make your own bandages (here’s a PDF on How to Make Your Own Cloth Bandages).  But most people won’t think to do that.  So stockpile lots of sizes and types of sterile bandages.

18. Socks

This is a commonly overlooked survival item.  I’ve talked to some people working with refugees and they say that everyone is in desperate need of socks and shoes from walking so much.  Stockpiling shoes is a bit more difficult, but you can buy cheap socks and barter them when SHTF.

19. Knowledge

This isn’t exactly an “item,” but don’t underestimate how valuable knowledge is!

When you know how to do things like make your own bandages or candles, brew your own alcohol, grow your own food, or fix a generator, you will be able to barter your skills for whatever you need.

More important, survival knowledge allows you to become a valued indispensable member of a community.  Learning survival skills costs absolutely nothing and your skills go with you everywhere.

So start now before it is too late!

Are you stockpiling any of these items? Let us know in the Primal Survivor Facebook group!

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