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It’s important to have a plan for bartering items to have after the SHTF — or even if you’re just worried about an EMP, zombie outbreak, or disaster striking. What kinds of things do you need to gather? How do you want to organize them? And most importantly, what are the best bartering items to have after the SHTF?

People with bug out bags often say it’s best to include items that don’t necessarily have bartering value, but that you personally will want and need.

Ideas of how bartering works. Getting what you need without the cash.
No money, no problem

Bartering Items to Have After the SHTF

The answer is a little complicated. If you’re looking for some general advice, check out our list of the top items for your emergency stash. But every person and their situation is different, so we’ve compiled a pretty comprehensive list of survival items that may be useful in any downturn.

Power Tools

These could be used to repair machinery and buildings after a disaster or to build new shelters. They can also make life easier in the day-to-day by making it possible to chop firewood or fix up an old trailer if you’re homeless.


In a post-disaster world, batteries are one of the best bartering items because they’re needed to power so many things — flashlights, walkie-talkies and more. And because most people don’t keep enough batteries stocked up, it will be difficult for you to find them once the stores run out. If you have a lot of batteries on hand, you can easily get what you need from others.

Coffee and Tea

Although coffee lovers will probably want to keep their stash for themselves, these two hot beverages can make great trade items for the types of people who don’t drink or don’t like them — meaning pretty much everyone except addicts.

Alcohol and Tobacco

Alcohol is an obvious addition to any barter list — it’s valuable on its own, plus it can be used as a disinfectant or fuel. Tobacco products are also worth having on hand, not just to use as barter but also as part of your bug-out plan since they can help you survive if you run out of food.

Don’t forget matches and lighters to light up!

Young boy milking a cow in exchange for something he needs.
When is bartering useful?

Firearms and Ammunition

You might not want to give up firearms if you have them, but ammunition is another thing entirely — especially if you don’t have a gun that uses it. Ammo is great for bartering because it’s small, lightweight and in high demand. However, these last few years ammunition has gotten more expensive and hart to find. Hence, another reason to purchase your prepping supplies while supplies are available and affordable.

Plumbing Supplies

There’s a reason why so many people rush to Home Depot when there’s a major snowstorm or hurricane in town. Plumbing supplies are crucial to have on hand before any major disaster, because if the water goes out, you’ll still need to be able to use the bathroom, cook meals and clean up around the house.

Toiletries and Paper Goods

Just like toilet paper and other bathroom products are at the top of your personal emergency essentials list, they’ll also be among the first things people rush out to buy in an emergency — and they may not be able to find them. Stock up on items like toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste — especially kids’ toothpaste and toothbrushes — as well as soap, shampoo and other toiletries.

Making Things Materials

The next category is materials for making things: fabric (especially light cotton), thread (of all colors), needles (for sewing and knitting), safety pins, buttons and yarn. These are tremendously valuable for repair work as well as for making clothes for people who don’t have any.

Towels, Bibs and Bandanas

You can use these to wrap up things, to clean up spills, or as handkerchiefs. If you’re growing your own food, you can also use them as makeshift produce bags for storing your garden’s bounty.

Sewing Supplies and Knitting Needles

Sewing supplies and knitting needles are two very useful items to have on hand. You can make clothes or repair old ones with them. You can even make a book bag or backpack out of an old shirt if you get good at sewing.

Heirloom Seeds and Farming Equipment

During a long-term disaster, it will be necessary to grow food. If people do not have heirloom seeds and farming equipment they will need a way to obtain them. Heirloom seeds, small farming tools, and other related items could easily be used as bartering items after the SHTF.

Hygiene Items

Hygiene is important for health and wellness. If people do not have access to hygiene items such as toothbrushes, soap, and feminine products they will want to acquire these things from other people somehow.

Though you might think that these are insignificant things that would not be worth very much during a long-term disaster; hygiene items could actually be very valuable when there is no government or store to purchase these things from. It might be a good idea to stock up on hygiene items now so that you can use them.

Think about how many cheap hygiene items you can hoard up while supplies have?

Medical Supplies, and First Aid Kits

Medicine and first aid supplies are some of the most important things to have after the SHTF. Illness and injury can happen, and if someone you care about gets hurt or has a medical condition, you need to be able to treat them. This is also one of those things that people don’t really think about until they need it. Most people visit the doctor if they’re ill or injured, but in a SHTF situation, there may not be an option to do that.

There are many different items that can help you prepare for medical emergencies. You’ll just need to consider what types of situations you might face and what would be best for your situation. Some of these items include:

  • Alcohol Sanitizers/Wipes
  • Antibiotics/Disinfectants
  • Antiseptic/Antibiotic Ointments
  • Bandages/Gauze
  • Burn Ointment
  • Dental Floss
  • Dental Tools (i.e., toothbrush)
  • Duct Tape (great for bandages)
  • Eye Wash (great for contacts)
  • Feminine Hygiene Products (for yourself or trade)
  • First Aid

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

Final Thoughts

Although difficult to reach the point where you truly don’t need bartering items to have after the SHTF. It’s still useful to consider what use items might have in a barter situation, whether they’re simply useful items that others may want and need at some point, or whether they’re more valuable items that will help guarantee your own survival. The more versatile your chosen mix of items is, the better off you’ll be after the SHTF.

What other items or skills would you use for bartering? Please list in your comments below.

About Post Author


During the day, Ms. Williams is a compliance officer for a major insurance agency in Florida. In her free time she enjoys the great outdoors and share her passion for the adventures life has to offer. She now shares her passion for Emergency Preparedness, making it simple for everyone to start.
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