13 Best Bartering Items to Trade in a Post-Collapse World

Every prepper knows they need a supply of food and essentials stocked up for when a major disaster strikes. But are you prepared for a full economic collapse?

In a SHTF scenario that lasts months or longer, money will quickly become worthless. And for most people, it’s impossible to stockpile everything you’ll ever need for months or years on end. You’ll need a way to trade for supplies.

The best bartering items for any disaster situation are food, water, and medical supplies. Everyday necessities will also be highly sought after for trade.

In a post-collapse world, the most valuable items will be things that other people are likely to not have enough of. In this article, we’ll discuss what those high-value bartering items are and how you can use them to barter when the time comes.

Most Wanted Bartering Items

The best bartering items are those that are needed by many and in high demand. Many of these items will be the same for everyone, but high-value bartering items can vary depending on location. For example, furs and thick coats might be of higher value if you’re in the middle of an Alaskan winter when SHTF than they would be in Florida in July.

Ask yourself what your neighbors are most likely to run out of first when disaster strikes. Stock up on those items as well as the items on this list.

It should go without saying, but make sure you have enough of all of these items for yourself before you start stockpiling for bartering.

1. Water

Water is the most essential item that can be used for bartering when SHTF. The average person can only last between 3 and 7 days without water. It’s essential for staying hydrated and maintaining hygiene, and anyone trying to grow crops or keep livestock will need a lot of it to keep operating.

Desperate people will trade just about anything in exchange for clean water, which is why it’s one of the most valuable items you could possibly have stocked up for a SHTF scenario.

If you live in an area with a lot of rainfall, consider collecting rainwater in barrels. If you live in a drier area, you can buy large jugs of water and stack them wherever you have space in your home or in a protected structure like a shed on your property.

If you want to really expand your bartering power, invest in a water filtration system that will allow you to filter rainwater, groundwater, and water from local streams and lakes. Similarly, you can stock up on water purification tablets, desalination kits, and water filters to barter.

Here’s an article to help you store your water long-term.

2. Food

In disaster situations, food is one of the first things to disappear as supply chains halt and people are left scrambling at the grocery stores. Once the shelves are empty, people will be desperate to feed their families.

If you want to be a successful barterer, stockpile high-demand, nutrient-dense, and non-perishable food items. This means items like canned foods, dried rice and beans, powdered milk, protein powder, and MREs. Here’s a list of survival foods that may be useful for bartering.

If you have the ability and space to grow fresh food, stock up on seeds like carrots, wheat, and potatoes that you can harvest and trade. Even if you end up not being able to grow the produce yourself, the seeds will be valuable bartering items themselves.

In the same vein, if you have room for a chicken coop on your property, now would be a good time to start raising chickens. They will help your garden thrive and their eggs will be incredibly valuable for bartering in a post-collapse world.

3. Medical Supplies

In any disaster situation, medical supplies will be in high demand because with disaster often comes injuries and medical emergencies. And as time goes on, medical supplies will continue to be necessary as your fellow post-collapse citizens need to treat injuries, prevent infection, and care for sick loved ones.

If you can stockpile medical supplies, you’ll be able to barter for just about anything you need. Here’s a list of some of the most valuable medical supplies:

  • Bandages and gauze
  • Alcohol
  • Medical tape and sterile gloves
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Burn salve
  • Painkillers
  • Antacids
  • Vitamins
  • Cough syrup
  • Antihistamines

4. Firearms and Ammunition

In a SHTF scenario, firearms and ammunition will become some of the most valuable bartering items around. Not everyone will have guns or enough ammo for hunting and self-defense, so if you have firearms and ammunition to spare, you’ll have a ton of bartering power. Ammo is an especially great item to stockpile because it’s easy to store and lasts forever.

Make sure to get guns that are versatile and can be used for multiple purposes. And if you’re not familiar with firearms, take some time to learn how to use them before SHTF.

5. Fuel

In a post-collapse world, fuel will be one of the most valuable commodities around because people will need it to run generators, vehicles, and stoves for cooking.

If you have the space, stockpiling fuel is a great way to ensure you have something valuable to trade when the time comes. Make sure to get a variety of fuel types like gasoline, propane, and kerosene to increase your bartering power.

6. Tools

After the world collapses, it will have to be rebuilt. And to rebuild, we’ll need tools. Tools like hammers, saws, screwdrivers, and wrenches will be in high demand for anyone trying to help with the rebuilding process.

If you have a stockpile of tools, you’ll be able to barter for just about anything you need. And if you’re not handy yourself, learn how to use them so you can help rebuild.

7. Heat and Light Essentials

In a disaster situation, being able to see and stay warm will be essential for survival. And non-preppers tend to run out of things like candles and batteries fast. That’s why your stockpile of heat and light essentials will come in handy when the time comes for you to barter.

Some of the best heat and light essentials to stockpile are:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Candles
  • Lanterns
  • Firewood
  • Matches

Make sure to get a variety so you’ll be prepared for any situation and able to barter with people with varying needs.

8. Hygiene Products

Having good hygiene in a disaster situation isn’t just about comfort. Hygiene will be essential for maintaining health and preventing the spread of infection. And in a post-collapse world, hygiene supplies will be a valuable commodity.

The best bartering items will be things that can easily be stored for a long time. So go for products like toilet paper, feminine products, soap bars, toothpaste, and toothbrushes.

Products like baby wipes and wet wipes will also be in high demand, but they won’t last as long. If you stock up on these items, be sure to barter them sooner rather than later.

Here’s a great article that’ll teach you how to stay clean without a shower.

9. Alcohol

Alcohol has a variety of uses in a SHTF scenario. Not just for getting a buzz, alcohol can be used as a disinfectant, fuel, and even as a painkiller. So, it’s definitely something you should include in your stockpile. Consider collecting hard liquor like vodka, whiskey, and rum for versatility.

10. Honey

Honey never expires. And it has a ton of uses like being a natural sweetener, an antibacterial agent, and a sore throat reliever. If you have a stockpile of honey, you’ll never have to worry about it going bad and you can whip it out for trade whenever the need arises.

11. Tobacco Products

Addiction is a powerful thing. And in a disaster situation, people will do just about anything to get their fix. So, if you have tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, or chewable tobacco, you can be sure they’ll be in high demand. Just make sure to keep these items in a safe, dry place so they don’t get ruined by the elements.

12. Clothing

Clothing is another one of those things that everyone will need, especially as the weather starts to change and time goes on. And in a post-collapse world, fashion won’t be a priority. So, functional clothing like coats, boots, socks, jeans, and gloves will be in high demand.

If you have extra clothing that’s in decent shape, you’ll be able to barter for just about anything. So make sure to add some clothes to your supply of bartering items.

13. Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile item that has a ton of different uses. It can be used for baking, cleaning, camping an upset stomach, shampoo, and even to make explosives. So, there’s no doubt that it will be a valuable commodity in a post-collapse world.

Baking soda is incredibly cheap and easy to store for long periods, so it’s definitely something you should add to your stockpile. Be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place so it doesn’t absorb moisture from the air.

Variety is the spice of life. And it’s also the best way to guarantee success when bartering in a post-collapse world. When building up your bartering stash, try to make sure that you have several types of items to offer. That way, no matter who you come across in the post-collapse world, you’re likely to have something they’ll want to trade you for.

Things That Disappear When SHTF

In a disaster situation, there are some items that will quickly disappear from the shelves. Make sure you’re prepared with a supply of everything you’ll need, and expect the following items to disappear fast after SHTF:

  • Food. Especially fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables. This is one of the first things people will go for.
  • Water. Bottled water and water filters will vanish from store shelves overnight.
  • Medical Supplies. Antibiotics, painkillers, and other medical supplies will quickly disappear from pharmacies as people go on panic-induced shopping sprees.
  • Seasoned Firewood. People will be looking to stay warm, so expect firewood to go fast.
  • Batteries. People will need batteries for flashlights, radios, and other devices.
  • Baby Supplies. Diapers, formula, and other baby supplies are essential for families with young children. They will be some of the first things to go in a disaster situation.
  • Toiletries. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and other toiletries are necessary for everyday hygiene. And as we saw at the beginning of the pandemic, people will risk it all for a roll of toilet paper. 
  • Generators. If the power goes out, people will be desperate to get their hands on a generator.
  • Fuel. Propane and butane are two items that will be in high demand for cooking, heating, and powering generators.
  • Kitchen tools. Hand-powered can openers, mixers, whisks, and other kitchen tools will be cleared from the shelves fast as people try to prepare for an electricity-free kitchen.

If you have a healthy stockpile of bartering items, you should be able to get most of your basic needs met in a SHTF scenario. But you shouldn’t expect to be able to find everything you’ll ever need by bartering, so make sure you’re already well-stocked on any of these items that you anticipate needing.

For example, if you have an infant, be sure you have a large stock of formula for yourself. Because even if you have a ton of ammo to barter, it won’t do you any good if you can’t find anyone who has baby formula to trade.

Tips for Bartering Safely

Whenever you try to trade in a post-collapse world, you’ll be putting yourself at risk. It’s important to keep a few things in mind to avoid being robbed or taken advantage of. Follow these tips to keep you and your bartering stockpile safe:

  1. Rotate your bartering spots to make it harder for others to track you down.
  2. Don’t exclusively barter the same item every time. This will help you avoid becoming known as the person who always has water, food, or other high-value items.
  3. Keep your stash well hidden and don’t share its location with anyone.
  4. Keep a low profile and don’t brag about your bartering stockpile.
  5. Be aware of your surroundings and who you’re talking to when bartering.

Bartering is a skill that every prepper should learn. By stockpiling high-value items, you can be prepared for anything the future throws at you. And by following the tips above, you can do so safely. So start stockpiling now and be prepared for anything.