Top ten barter items


1. Alcohol
2. Water
3. Cigarettes
4. Food
5. First Aid
6. Security
7. Seeds
8. Sanitation/Hygiene
9. Energy/Power
10. Knowledge/Skills

Should the time come where our dollar has collapsed, a lot of nearly everyday items could become incredibly valuable. Most of these items are fairly affordable now. Stock up ahead of time. Most of the items on my list have a great shelf life. You never know what you might be able to barter for if you have things someone else really wants.

Here is my list of top 10 bartering items.

1. Alcohol – The little airline size bottles of whiskey and vodka and tequila can be used for drinking and medicinal purposes. Knowing how to make your own beer or moonshine can be very valuable as well.

2. Water – If you have a water purification system, like a Sawyer or a Big Berkey, keep at least 10 – 1 gallon empty containers. This way you can fill up these one gallon containers with fresh purified water to barter with. If you have a Berkey, Get at least one extra filter to barter with. Safe, clean drinking water is a very valuable barter item.

3. Cigarettes – even if you don’t smoke, there will always be someone who will barter just about anything for a cigarette.

4. Food – When you buy a 25 pound sack of dried foods like rice, wheat, oats, etc. Take some and put it aside in a small mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. This way you can have smaller quantity to either give as charity or barter with without people seeing your full stock. Other good foods for bartering include coffee, sugar, honey, cheese, and most overlooked is salt. Do not forget to have extra salt for bartering. Canning supplies will be handy here to, either to barter directly or to can your items to barter. Farm animals and their byproducts… Can you imagine what you could trade for a pair of breeding rabbits or goats? Farm animals are more valuable because they will continue to produce food supplies.

5. Medical Supplies – Many people have some medical supplies or at least a first aid kit within their homes but most are lacking greatly in medical trauma supplies. Bandaids can only go so far. Remember, when the grid goes down medical services will be limited or non existent. Simply stepping on a rusty nail can become life threatening during dire situations where a trip to the doctor and a tetanus shot will be virtually impossible. This is assuming the person is healthy to begin with. The people who have medical issues or require prescriptions are at the greatest risk and should plan accordingly. If they don’t plan now then bartering may be their only option.

6. Security – This pretty much requires firearms. Guns and ammunition will be nearly priceless. The ability to make traps and signals to warn you of intruders or perimeter trespassers will be a great skill for you to barter with. If you find value in it… So will someone else. As a part of “Security” as a barter item, that includes having ammunition or possibly firearms for barter. These would be immensely valuable in many survival situations. People might be willing to trade a whole lot of things for a box of ammo. Now, arguably, ammo should be higher up the list but how willing are YOU going to be to part with it?

7. Seeds – Heirloom, Non-GMO seeds. The seeds MUST be an heirloom variety so that you can collect the seeds at the end of the growing season and replant them the following year. When the dollar fails, seeds will become a valuable asset and will be used as money. Remember the phrase, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” The same is true for seeds. If you give or barter with food, that’s great, but giving someone the ability to continuously feed themselves year after year is priceless.

8. Sanitation & Hygiene Supplies – When a disaster strikes the creature comforts that people have grown accustomed to throughout their lives will no longer be there. No more daily showers and washing your hair with apple scented shampoo. Possibly no more flushing the toilets Sanitation services that require power will no longer be functioning. This will quickly lead to diseases being spread rapidly. Small containers (like the little sample size) of shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper and so forth could be worth a fortune to those without.

9. Sources of Energy – This would include gasoline, propane, batteries, battery chargers, lamp oil, and renewable resources like wind, hydro, and solar products. When people expect a major storm to strike their area one of the first places they go is the gas station. There are always people who hoard gasoline for bartering or selling to those who didn’t stock up. Some are more unscrupulous than others. Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydro are far more valuable than finite resources like gasoline and propane. A solar panel or wind turbine combined with a battery pack would make a far greater barter item but may be more difficult to give up. This is where the rule “Two is one and one is none” comes into play. Extra items can be used as a backup in case yours fails or can be used as barter items.

10. Skills & Knowledge – Last but not least is the ability to barter with your skills. Some people believe that if they just whip out their credit card and buy every survival item or gadget out there, they will be safe from all that this world can throw at them… HA! Some people put more value on items than they do their own brains. What good are those items if you don’t know how to use them? Items can bring you a false sense of security which can be your downfall. Your true power comes from the knowledge you carry with you and your ability to get you out of sticky situations. Cool gadgets may come in handy and make your existence a bit easier but will do nothing for you if you are not prepared mentally. Take time now to take classes, brush up on your skills and practice, practice, practice. You never know when that one bit of information you thought you never would ever need to know will actually save your life. Understand that you cannot know it all. Figure out where your strengths are, work on your weaknesses, and let go of the things you cannot grasp. Meet and network with your friends and neighbors now so you can find out who is the doctor, mechanic, master gardener, and so on and be sure to let them know what you have to offer in return. Setting up those alliances now will help you when the time is right. Always remember, knowledge weighs nothing.

Barter supplies

Water and bottles
Water purification
Coffee and tea
Medical supplies
Fire starting supplies
Medical training
Gardening skills
Security training and experience
Toilet paper
Feminine hygiene products
Heirloom seeds
Firearms and Ammo
Ammo reloading skills and supplies
Sources of energy
Electrical/solar installation and repair
Fuel and fuel preservative
Fencing supplies and tools
Engine repair
Latrine supplies (lye)
Ham radio and operations
Canning supplies
Bee keeping
Canning skills
Sugar and honey
Baby supplies
Children’s clothing
Gold and Silver/ pre 1965 coinage
Storage bags / ZipLock
Aluminum foil
Candles and candle making supplies
Cleaning supplies
Personal hygiene supplies


  1. Good list. The only thing I disagree with is basically all of number 6. We have discussed this before, my spouse and my preppers friends. I cannot think of any time I would feel comfortable bartering guns or ammo. I always worry, what if they try to use “my” items against me? But that’s just me.

    • I would only barter guns and ammo with known people…neighbors, friends, etc. never strangers. The hard part is that ammo would be one of the most valuable currencies in a barter economy. I understand and mostly agree with your concern.

  2. When storing food, people overlook spices not just salt. Some dried spices would be nice when shtf. At first you might not think about it. But long, term spices could become a valuable barter item.

  3. Good list.


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