The 10 Top Barter Items to Stockpile for Doomsday

Zombie apocalypses aside, there are a lot of disaster situations which could bring our world economy as we know it grinding to a halt. Even if you somehow can get money out of the ATMs after the grid goes down, it isn’t going to do you much good for long! But that doesn’t mean the economy will end. We will just start bartering items instead of using money.

What Makes a Good Barter Item?

There are a lot of items which obviously would make good barter items in a post-collapse situation. For example, antibiotics are probably going to be in high demand. But, in order for something to be a good barter item, you better have A LOT of it.

What if you barter off most of your antibiotics only to have your entire family get sick the next week? Then you will be in the position of having to find more antibiotics and something to barter in exchange for them. A good rule to go by is:

Barter items you’ve learned to produce yourself.

For example:

  • Food, because you’ve got a great survival garden going
  • Herbal medicines
  • Homemade soap
  • Alcohol, because you’ve learned to make your own vodka…

The more things you learn to make yourself, the better position you will be in a post-collapse world.   Also, you will find it very rewarding to learn how to make things yourself. When you know how to make your own hygiene and cleaning items, produce your own food, etc., you are less dependent on the system and can enjoy the freedom which comes with self-sustainability.

Top Barter Items in a Post-Collapse Society

Medical Items

This includes items like bandages, pain medications, antibiotics, anti-diarrhea medicines, cough medications, and syringes. Stockpiling some of these items might prove difficult, since you will likely need a prescription for antibiotics and hardcore pain meds.

I suggest you read this article on the best 9 survival antibiotics so you know which ones to buy.

Also, this article about alternatives to antibiotics tells you which antibiotics don’t require a prescription.


When SHTF, a lot of people are going to respond by getting absolutely drunk so they can disappear into oblivion. Alcohol is going to become a very valuable currency. If it seems too depressing to stockpile alcohol as a barter item, also consider the fact that alcohol has a lot of survival uses – like as a pain killer, disinfectant, fuel, and more.

Sanitary Pads and Tampons

I’m glad my wife uses a menstrual cup (you can learn about those here), so there is no need for us to stockpile bulky sanitary pads or tampons. But most ladies do use these products, and they are quickly going to disappear from supermarket shelves after the collapse. This will bring the phrase “on the rag” back to its original meaning! You can bet that women will eagerly exchange items for some sanitary pads and tampons.


I’d be careful about bartering food in a post-collapse world. If you offer to barter food, it means that you’ve got excess food – which means you are going to be a target for thieves and looters! Instead, it might be smarter to barter seeds (which you collected from your thriving survival garden).

The most in-demand food barter items are going to be the ones which aren’t easy to produce yourself. For example, sugar will be in high demand. You might want to learn how to make your own flour as this will probably be very valuable. You can even make flour from acorns!

Nails and Screws

These will be necessary for rebuilding and boarding up windows/doors which have been broken from the disaster or looting. Tip: You can probably pry nails out of abandoned structures, hammer them back into shape, and use them for bartering.

Weapons and Ammo

While these are also going to be very valuable barter items, I wouldn’t use them for bartering! Once you trade the ammo, then the person could just shoot you and take the rest of your stockpile. Keep your weapons for yourself and out of the hands of potential enemies!


This barter item doesn’t get talked about a lot. However, I am pretty sure it will be one of the most sought-after items in a post-collapse society. Why? Because I’ve got friends who work with refugees and as disaster rescue workers. They say that the thing people always need most is shoes (all of that walking/fleeing takes a toll on their shoes). Shoes are also something which you can’t really make yourself easily.

Cord and Rope

Cord is one of the most important survival items because it can be used for everything from fixing a broken shoelace to creating a survival shelter. I always keep paracord in my survival pack and have an everyday carry paracord bracelet.

Did you know that you can make rope out of dead plants? Here is a good tutorial.


In December 1942, a year after the US entered WWII, mandatory gas rationing was put into place. Most people were only allowed 3 gallons of gasoline per week. You can bet that people started selling off those gas rations for ridiculous prices!

Gasoline is already a valuable commodity, but “black gold” will take on a whole new meaning when SHTF. It isn’t exactly a smart idea to stockpile gasoline (fire hazard!). However, you can learn how to make your own biodiesel. Also, if you master alternative energies like how to make solar panels, your skills will be in hot demand and you can barter them instead.

Candles and Lighting

There are all sorts of ways to make off-grid lighting (some of which I talk about here). The average person isn’t going to know about these those and be left in the dark when the grid goes down. You could become pretty “rich” in the post-apocalypse world by learning how to make your own oil lamps from old vegetable oil and bartering them off.

What barter items do you think will be most valuable after the collapse? Let us know in the comments below or join the discussion on Facebook!


I’m Jacob Hunter, founder of Primal Survivor.
I believe in empowering people with the knowledge to prepare and survive in the modern world.

More about Jacob here.

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  1. Barter items not listed, cigarettes, baby formula and animals. Cigarettes for the same reason as alcohol, baby formula for women who cannot breastfeed, and animals like chickens and goats for milk eggs and meat.

  2. Why are tampons, not in the first aid kit ? They weren’t invented with menstruation in mind but as a field dressing during WW1 for gun shot wounds. You can also use the tube along with the tampon pad as a water filtration kit, use the pad also as a means of tinder.

  3. Make your own bandages from old sheets, etc. Washed, cut into strips are “clean”. Pressure cooker for 30 min and in a foodsaver vacu bag are sterile. Save sox and items of silk which has a long life. Panty hose, lots of uses.

  4. Socks, underwear, other types of clothing, jackets. Fish antibiotics can be purchased on line and at pet stores. They are the same as what people take.

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