40 Items to Barter in a Post-Collapse World

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40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival

Do you know how to barter?  In preparedness circles, the term barter is used a lot when describing a post SHTF situation when goods and services may no longer be available through normal channels.  According to Wikipedia, ”barter is a method of exchange by which goods or services are directly exchanged for other goods or services without using a medium of exchange, such as money”.

A lot of people think of bartering as something to do when they are down an out, perhaps unemployed, or low on cash.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Bartering has been around from eons and is simply a smart way to acquire goods and services under the radar screen.

40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival

Today I would like to share some very simple tips for bartering as well as my own suggested list of items and skills that may be useful for barter in a post-collapse economy.

How does simple barter work?

In a simple barter, you look for someone who is looking for a particular kinds of goods or services in exchange for goods or services that you may want.  For example, let’s say you do plumbing work but you need a some gardening equipment.  A simple barter would be exchanging some plumbing repairs for a used plow or rototiller.

Getting started is easy.  One of the simplest things to do is to put up an small ad on the local community bulletin board, perhaps at the grocery store or bowling alley.  (And by the way, I don’t know why but bowling alley’s are particularly good for this sort of thing.)  You can also peruse Craigslist or the Little Nickel want ads for people trying to sell the item you need.  The next step is to simply phone them ask and suggest a trade.

One of the very best ways to barter, though, is to put the word out among like-minded friends, relatives and neighbors.  Let them know what you have for trade and see what they offer in return.  What I am describing here is bartering in its most simplistic form but I think you get the gist.

Beyond simple bartering there are more complicated and dare I say sophisticated scenarios such as three way barters and barter clubs.  But that gets beyond the scope of this article which is merely to get you into the bartering mindset.

The Best Items to Use For Barter in a Post-Collapse World

There are a lot of different opinions as to what items will be best for barter in a post-collapse world where the underground economy may be the only viable economy for the passing of goods and services.  That said, consider this a starting point as you begin to acquire goods for barter.

In no particular order, consider accumulating some of the following items for barter purposes.  And keep in mind that in a post-collapse world, the items do not necessarily have to be new, but simply serviceable.

  • Water purification supplies including purification tabs and filters
  • Hand tools including hatchets, saws, machetes and general fix-it tools
  • Fire making supplies, including lighters, matches, flint fire steel
  • Sanitary supplies including toilet paper, feminine products and diapers
  • Disposable razors and razor blades
  • Fuel, any and all kinds (gas, diesel, propane, kerosene)
  • Prescription drugs, painkillers, and antibiotics
  • First aid remedies such as cough syrup, cortisone cream, boil-ese, calamine lotion and topical pain relievers
  • Spirits such as bourbon, rum, gin, and vodka
  • Coffee and tea (instant coffee is okay)
  • Solar battery charger and rechargeable batteries
  • Standard Batteries
  • Reading glasses
  • Paracord
  • Bags, including large garbage bags as well as smaller zip-close bags
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Tie Wraps
  • Heavy plastic sheets and tarps
  • Toiletries including toothpaste, dental floss soaps, shampoo (tip: save those small sized toiletries that are provided by hotels and motels)
  • Condoms
  • Latex or Nitrile gloves in a variety of sizes
  • Hard  candy
  • Fishing supplies
  • Knives of various types including fixed blades, kitchen knives, and box cutters.
  • Condiments and Spices
  • Paperback books on a variety of subjects
  • Tobacco and cigarette rolling supplies
  • Amusements such as playing cards, crossword puzzle books, Sudoku
  • Pencils & paper
  • Pepper spray
  • Garden seeds
  • Flashlights
  • Vinegar and baking soda to use in DIY cleaning supplies
  • Empty spray bottles and squirt bottles
  • Hand pumps for both air and liquids
  • Mylar blankets and tents
  • Hand warmers
  • Sewing and mending supplies
  • Knitting or crochet needles and yarn

One thing you will notice that I have not included firearms or ammo and for good reason.  In a post-collapse society, you might not know your barter partners well and may run the risk that they will use these items against you so that they can steal the rest of you stuff.  One person’s opinion, anyway.

A Caveat for Businesses

As you get started with bartering in a pre-collapse world – and after all, like any other survival skill, you should hone your skills now – keep in mind that in the United States, the IRS does have some rules for business bartering and most certainly, states probably do as well as it pertains to Business and Occupation taxes.  Just something to keep in mind.

The Final Word

Times are tough. Many are unemployed.  And many have had their retirement funds decimated by the sneaky (and dare we say corrupt?) Wall Street types.  Perhaps you have a useful skill. Or perhaps you have a healthy flock of egg laying chickens that provide more than you can consume.  Whatever you have in excess capacity, now is the time to learn to trade your skill or extra commodities for something you either need or covet.

40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival

There are lots of resources online, at the libraries, and in eBooks to help you acquire bartering skills.  Start small but start now. Bartering is the “in” thing to do these days.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
Gaye

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40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival

From the Bargain Bin:  Each of the items in my own Portable Pocket Survival Kit would also make good barter items.  The only change I would make is to pick up some larger sized LED flashlights than the Nano flashlight in my kit (which, by the way, is a very cool flashlight!).

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife:  This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing. About $23.

Streamlight Nano Light Keychain LED Flashlight:  extremely small and light weight yet it will throw off a decent amount of super-bright light. At just .36 ounces and 1.47 inches long, the Streamlight Nano Light Keychain Flashlight will take up a minimum of space in your pocket or bag. About $7.

Paracord Survival Bracelet40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival:  Why a Paracord Bracelet? So you always have some of this useful cord on your person!

Windstorm Safety Whistle40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival:  This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.

Swedish Firesteel:  Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version.

Pepper Spray:  It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets:  These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet.  You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. About $8 for a pack of 10.

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40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival

Although I have plenty of flashlights and batteries (you might even say I have a flashlight fetish) I also stay stocked up with a dozen of these Clear Mist 100 Hour Plus Emergency Candles40 Items to Barter in a Post Collapse World | Backdoor Survival as well.  For the best deal, purchase a dozen at a time to get a discounted price.  Be sure to also check out the Clear Globe attachment.

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Comments

40 Items to Barter in a Post-Collapse World — 45 Comments

  1. Excellent list. I did up a list once and it wasn’t nearly this comprehensive – I’ll definitely be revisiting my barter list after reading this.

  2. Always be careful trading ammo or liquor they may come back to haunt you. With liquor only trade small bottles for medical use, you don’t want to have to deal with drunks.

    • I would also question the safety of trading Machetes, and other equipment commonly used as weapons. Red Flags pop up all over large knives, etc… Just for me, and in my opinion of course, you may have different support or defense than I do.

  3. buy items like small hand tools from alibaba dot com (China) in bulk quantities. Buy $5 hammer for 50 cents (example). MUSTS: 1.never wear out, rust, break, etc. 2. small and not heavy 3. $1 to $20 each. 4. things people MUST have NOT would like to have.ie toilet paper, matches, knives.

    do NOT barter away items you may need yourself. water food guns ammo beware of “authorities”. They may not arrive to help but to take your supplies to give to those who did not prepare. Be stealth. Do not bug out! bug in! After 2 weeks in woods your bag is empty – what do you do? stay in fortified home with 5 to 10 people. trained.

  4. I read a very interesting article by a guy that lived through the Bosnia conflict on a prepper website. He talked a lot about bartering as that was the only way to get things you needed/wanted.

    One item that really stuck with me is that you never barter at your home and you never discuss/show/divulge your entire stock. Doing this may compromise your safety as someone may see that you have plenty, they may come back with a gang and take everything (including your life).

    This man talked about dressing and acting the part of being homeless and having nothing, despite having enough and a place to live. He would bring a single can of tuna to trade for 10 rounds of ammo instead of bringing 10 cans of tuna to trade for something larger. It was all about keeping up the perception that he had nothing worth stealing.

    • I read the same, or a similar, article. The author of the one I read said that in a SHTF situation, he would want to have lots of disposable lighters to use for barter because of the high demand for them. I now have over 200 “Scripto Views” lighters in my barter supplies and am adding more each trip to Walmart. At $1.97 for a pack of 7, they are a bargain and each could be worth as much as a full days worth of food, for example. “Views” are cheaper than Bics and transparent so the person you’re bartering with can see that they’re not getting ripped off.

      • Dodger: FYI: you get what you pay for. Being a avid prepper, I put a number of cheap lighters in freezer bags(vacuum type) and set them aside. Months later, guess what???? The cheap lighters were leaking fluid as evidenced by the bags looking like little balloons! Don’t believe me, do your own testing.

      • So why not, as you trade these lighters, just say you aren’t sure how much is in it? Also, how long do these lighters store before leaking?

  5. The article on the guy living in Bosnia was great! Something most would never think of doing. I see this as a great way to keep what you have stored and gaining more that you may need. Thank you for sharing! DR

  6. I didn’t think, but I guess almost anything is barter power. Because , realistically, how many people prepare for serious emergencies……I mean seriously. Most have their heads in the sand; example, my daughters who live in So.CA. Two of which live in highly populated areas.
    They think I’m nuts….fine!! I’m preparing for all of us, in case they have to bug out to our place. Hey, it’s highly possible. Seeds ( all varieties ), seasoning, coffee beans ( green ), fishing poles, bows and arrows ( even homemade ones ),jeeze, most anything or everything. I’m preparing, but I don’t think anyone is prepared completely. Sorry about the blathering on. Thank you for the very practical list, Gaye!!
    Knowledge is Power!

  7. nobody needs shampoo. you can use your own urine as it contains ammonia. never use condoms as the pull out method works very well.enjoyed the article.

  8. how about wasp or hornet spray small can about 3 dollars and small water bottle holder with clip about 1.50 at dollar store will cause blinding and discomfort in any attacker human or not

  9. Shampoo is not needed if you have vinegar or baking soda and water.. We just have to know that there will be people who will kill for what they need……would you? It’s a given, if it comes to chaos!
    It would take a whole community or neighborhook or block or road to committ to looking out after each other. Even then…….

  10. we barter, sometimes for items, sometimes labor for labor. something to think
    about in a post shtf scenario is having someone go off somewhere to a concealed
    position to cover the transaction, just in case. get there first and get situated. never divulge your bugout location,or be followed, or what you have, most of all, never allow yourself to be vulnerable to attack or kidnapping. be aware of your surroundings, be very observant of what others are doing, learn to read body language, so you can better anticipate your own actions so you can act, or react. I really hope we never have to experience what people in many other countries have had to live through.

  11. Another thing i noticed that no one mentioned P-38 or P-51 military can openers. The greatest military invention ever! Buy them in bulk and see them fly off your trading table! What do you do when you have all these canned goods and no way to open ‘em? Savvy???(With apologies to Capt. Jack!) lol

    • A lot of folks believe that bartering weapons and ammo is a bad idea. One reason is that your barter partner could use them against you. At the end of the day (if it comes to that), we will all need to be careful in picking and choosing our barter items.

      Bartering skills will be very important.

      • I agree it could be a bad idea. If a have a lot of 9mm and I’m low on 556 or if I really need food it might be necessary… If a know the person I might be willing to chance it.

  12. A lot of people will need cheesecloth for a number of uses, primarily for straining water. If you have clear plastic jugs, you can set them in the direct sun for a minimum of 6 hours. Ultra-violet light from the sun will kill most everything. Add 8 drops of bleach (eye dropper method) to each gallon to be sure.

  13. Another useful barter question for you after you run out of “store-boughten goods” or lose big in an accident, etc.:

    What can I learn now, suited to my abilities or nature–what homeskills–what specific wisdom–what objects can I become good at constructing or shaping now–what services in demand could I learn to provide–that would make me valuable to others BOTH in a post-SHTF situation OR later in this life when money could get tight or I am old, disabled or in foreign scenario?

    It’s about asking yourself, what value can I start creating in myself and how can I help to build a better community or network in my life now?

    Gaye your articles are so informative, thank you very much. Could you write a series on what PRODUCTS people could learn to make or what SKILLS they could learn over the years to make THEMSELVES valued in post-SHTF scenarios?

    How about a simple self-assessment quiz to go with it? This doesn’t have to be only an article by the way…

  14. I would include children’s shoes on the list… they grow out of them so fast, and they are needed. You can cut down adult clothes, or sew new things for kids, but shoe making takes special talent.

  15. I’m surprised you didn’t mention ammo. I’ve got a bunch of extra ammo that will be like currency in a post-SHTF world.

    • Nark – Actually, that was intentional. I personally would not want anyone to know I had a lot of ammo so I would keep it hidden and not let anyone know I had extra. I suppose among friends, but even still, who will really be our friend if things get desperate? YMMV of course.

  16. Thanks for another great post, Gaye! I particularly love the insight for current businesses about watching out for the IRS/State.

  17. I’ve posted this before but it’s one of the most practical, cheap and easily stored barter items…disposable lighters! The demand among “non-preppers” will be high & each will be worth a “fortune” in trade goods, such as food, ammo, etc.

    • If you look at the inert ingredients of painkillers, drugs, and antibiotics; by Googgling them you’ll find that the first item listed is the main ingredient. This should be your sought after item. Some are OTC. Example baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate is the main ingredient of alkaseltzer. One tea spoon of baking soda mixed with water will cure an upset stomach. Other ingredients can be found in the field once you’ve identified them.

  18. also remember your pets..I keep 6 months worth of food for them. I also look at the expiration labels on everything. Something that we need and also a good barter item would be small sewing kids..I have put back old jeans and scrap material for patching and thread, needles will be needed. I also have several hand grinders to use to grind wheat & grain. Can openers, and matches. I really enjoy this site and thanks Gaye for informing so many, I send to friends who are beginning to see the light after thinking I had gone nuts! :)

    • I use the once-a-month flea/insect repellent drops i put o my pets back each month to repell fleas. I have bought extra ..if your pets bring in fleas becaue you run out of the medication it can cause BIG problems.

  19. I have bought outside solar lights and if we lose power, let the sun charge lights during day for inside use at night. You can also make a solar oven with cardboard box and aluminum foil (go to YOUTUBE for instructions)

  20. This might seem way off base to some people, but I also think it would be beneficial to stock several clothes pins and some sort of clothes line. In a post SHTF situation, everybody will eventually need to wash their clothing(probably by hand) and dry them somehow, even if it is indoors.

  21. I’ve thought a lot about the things I would miss and I believe one of the best things to barter would be spices.

    pepper, cinammin, etc.

  22. Really??? No one has said CHOCOLATE yet??? Post SHTF, that’s the first thing I’m going for, is a bite of bittersweet to preserve my morale. Order of survival: chocolate, shelter, water, fire, food.

  23. I have put together quite a catche of quality essential oils and use them in my practice. I also know the healing and edible flora of my area. In a post SHTF situation, I think this will be beneficial. I am also a holistic medicine practitioner and I hope that my skills can be traded for something useful.

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