The 10 Top Barter Items List to Stockpile for SHTF

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.

Check out the following articles for options if prescription medications are unavailable:


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

Menstrual cups are becoming more common (you can learn about those here), so there is no need for us to stockpile bulky sanitary pads or tampons.

However 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.


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. 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.

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  1. Salt you can’t live with out it. I keep a gallon jar of the pink salt at all times. So not really enough to trade but enough to keep my family going for a long time.

  2. If you go to most dollar stores, you can get a variety of reading glasses. They will be very valuable barter items.
    Also, don’t forget the free stuff you can get to barter with such as safety pins (from dry cleaning), rubber bands (used to bundle grocery store produce), soaps and shampoos from hotels, condiments from fast food restaurants, pens and notebooks from business meetings, etc. Those are all small items that can be easily stored.
    Think the way our great grandparents did. They didn’t throw anything out.

  3. This is probably the wrong place to post this, but…

    Kwiklot is made from a protein extracted from shrimp shells. There’s a way to make a reasonable substitute with just shrimp or other malacopod (shrimp, crayfish, lobsters) shells.

    1. After removal, clean shells thoroughly. (Best if removed BEFORE cooking. Some of the peptides are lost in cooking.)
    2. Dry with heat to at least 180F. At 180 (can be done, carefully, in a dutch oven over fire. DO NOT BURN!) take about two hours to be sure you’ve killed all microbials.
    3. Grind in antiseptic manner. Ensure all surfaces are sterilized.
    4. Store in an antiseptic manner for later use. (Clean water bottles, ziplocs, heat sterilized cotton bag.)

    For use, sprinkle on wound, place bandage over wound to reduce bleeding.
    While the result does NOT work as well as Kwikklot, it can significantly reduce hemorrhage vs just bandages.

    Also can be used as a barter item so I’d say it’s not the worst place to post it.

  4. Yes, MODERN shoes are hard to make. TRADITIONAL shoes, however, are very easily made with wood and/or animal skin, so, why don’t you learn to make shoes instead? (that will take you about a week to do if you train with an artisan). If a doomsday happens, there will be an end to modern shoes very soon, and TRADITIONAL way of doing things will be more valuable.

    Also, before sanitary pads, women used to use cotton cloth, so that’s what’s going to be used when everything goes to hell. And little food means lack of menstruation, so that won’t be so useful as it is nowadays. There are natural remedies to cut short menstruation so expert women would know how to be able to survive with little sanitary pads.

    If you fear Doomsday, aside from stocking on seeds, you should be planting valuable trees like oaks (and its family), chestnuts (and other edible nut producers) and boxwood.

    About the lady thinking about baby formula: that shit has a very short expire date, so it would be useless unless you want to kill some babies. Get stock on herbs that increase breast milk in humans (like milk thistle) and learn anatomy for helping this women to achieve their milking goals.

  5. These are all good to have. But I wonder where can I ever store enough of these things to make a real difference when shtf? Protect it all from rust rot rats and rain?

  6. Please add seeds to your survival plans. Perennials and annuals. Every kind of vegetable and many types of berries and fruits. We all need to eat. Also it would be smart to have sturdy pans to cook on fire and process food for long term storage.

  7. Don’t forget shoelaces. Lots of sizes if you find a sale and I’ve found bags of leather laces in the sale area at JoAnne’s to put aside. I recently went to a garage sale and all jackets in all sizes were a dollar each. I bought all of them and lots of flannel shirts both lined and just shirts. I try to keep a closet with clothes for when families are in need in today’s world. Sometimes friends and family come and the weather here is so fickle that they need a jacket etc. Socks are a must and plain t-shirts. Gloves at the end of the season for the next yr.

  8. I agree any fire arms or ammo should not be barter items. Why would you want to arm a potential threat against you and your group? One of the barter items we have stored is reading glasses of different strengths. I am sure they will be a best barter. We stock drinking alcohol in half pints and how the ability to brew others. The shoes are a good idea as well because there will be a lot of miles put on them. Herbs for health, seasoning food and cleanliness. I feel that bartering should be easy and simple. Don’t take too many items at a time as people will be watching and if you have too much you may be following home and robbed or worse.

  9. Skills are one of the best things to barter. In today’s world, many people lack basic skills and knowledge of things such as cooking and baking, sewing, knitting, gardening, canning and other food preservation methods, natural remedies, building structures, home repair, etc. The more skills you have the better. And the good news is, you can teach yourself many skills by researching online, reading good books, etc.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    • Not quite true. Tampons were invented in 1929 and patented as “Tampax” in 1933 by Dr. Earle Haas… loooooong after WWI. But the concept of tampons predates the ancient Egyptians.

      You might be thinking of the invention of “cellucotton,” the substance used in sanitary napkins, which was devised for the purpose of improving bandages in World War I.

      As for using a tampon in a gunshot wound… please don’t. A tampon is meant to absorb, at most, 1-3 teaspoons of blood and they’re the antithesis of every principal of ‘Stop The Bleed.’ Plus, jamming anything other than a hemostatic agent in a gunshot wound can easily screw up the wound worse than it is, making things more difficult for the variety of surgeons who’ll descend upon the patient. Please… get a hemostatic agent (sponge or gauze) and several rolls of gauze to pack into and around the wound and a handful nice large non-adhesive sterile gauze bandages and cloth medical tape if there’s going to be any treating of deep, penetrating wounds.

  13. 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.


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