Top 12 Barter Goods for WTSHTF

I saw a reader comment asking for a post on barter items for the post-cataclysmic world. Ranger Man will happily oblige. Here we go:

  1. Ammo, Ammo, Ammo – Do I need to say it again? America is the most heavily armed nation in the world, but I seriously question how many people actually maintain an adequate supply of ammunition for those guns. Think about it, how many people do you know that go out and buy a few boxes of shells before hunting season starts? Exactly. They don’t have an adequate supply should SHTF. You can have all the guns in the world, but if you can’t load ‘em with bullets – they’re useless. When the Golden Horde of unprepared masses descend upon those holding something of value, it’s only those who can repeatedly pop these zombies in the dome that will find themselves forcing the Golden Horde to consider another house. Stock up on common calibers (.22, 9mm, .45, .223, 12 gauge and .308) and you’ll find yourself in high demand with people that need rounds. Now, the flip side of this is do you really want to give away ammunition that might be used against you? You’ll have to decide this depending on the exact SHTF circumstances. I trust you’ll make the right decision.
  2. Guns, Guns, Guns – Do I need to say it again? Yes, they’re expensive, but there are MANY people out there who are averse to owning a gun, but once TEOTWAWKI hits, their minds will quickly change. They’re expensive, yes, but I’m not advocating you stock up on AR-15′s to hand out in exchange for everything under the sun (though you could). I’m thinking more along the lines of used, single-shot 12 gauge shotguns that can be purchased for around $50. To someone that’s unarmed, a single-shot shotgun and a box of shells will be worth its weight in gold.
  3. Prescription Medications – Yes, this is a difficult one to stock up on, but if you come across them in the post-apocalyptic world – SNAG ‘EM. What do you think you could trade a bottle of nitro pills for with someone that has a heart condition? Exactly. If you require prescription medications I would strongly advise you consult with your physician about obtaining a few month’s extra supplies.
  4. Water Purification Supplies – Does this really need an explanation?
  5. Survival Seeds - This would be for the pro-longed SHTF situation. Their value will be infinite.
  6. Fuel - We’re talking all types: gas, diesel, propane, firewood, etc. Can you have too much? No, so you’ll likely keep it for yourself, but if you DID need something that you hadn’t already acquired, fuel will be a great commodity for bartering.
  7. Survival Books – Books with good information will be huge. They’re EMP-proof and don’t require electricity to run (unlike the pc you’re using).
  8. Batteries – Stock as many as you can use while rotating stock and staying within the recommended life span. A better idea is to stock a few crank radios and flashlights.
  9. Soap, Bleach and Cleaning Agents – Your local grocery store won’t be open. These items are critical for maintaining health and hygiene.
  10. Cast Iron Cookware – People that run out of fuel will be cooking over an open fire – situations that call for cast iron. Settlers used it for a reason.
  11. Garden and Hand Tools - Those left alive will suddenly become gardeners and carpenters, whether they like it or not.
  12. Canning Supplies – How will people survive the non-growing season without these?

Some items I’d like to cover that are not included above:

  • Silver and Gold Coins – A lot of people advocate purchasing these for bartering purposes, but their value is entirely dependent on the situation. If you’re lost in the desert for 14 days, would you rather have a gallon of water or 4 bars of gold? Precisely my point. When the cataclysm hits people WILL NOT look for silver and gold coins, they’ll be looking for the items mentioned above.
  • Booze – Yes, alcoholics will do flips and twists for it when they run dry, but what will your typical alcoholic have to offer in trade? Think about it. While I would appreciate a stiff shot of Jack Daniels post-Doomsday, I wouldn’t waste my time stocking up on it for bartering purposes. That being said, if you do drink, and you have a pantry stocked with food, it’d certainly be worthwhile to add the booze of your choice to the shelves and rotate stock. Remember: Shop in your pantry for dinner, shop at the store for your pantry.
  • Toilet Paper – Yeah, it has value, but when TEOTWAWKI hits, you’ll happily use leaves and magazines. Don’t waste valuable storage space to stock amounts beyond your typical household needs.

Again, I can’t stress enough, everything is relative to the situation. When we had the 1998 Ice Storm in Maine, a box of ammo would’ve been worth a box of ammo, but people were selling generators for 3 or 4 times their original purchase price, typically out of the back of trucks and vans if you know what I’m saying. Your best bet is to first prepare broadly for items that’ll retain value regardless of the situation, then stockpile goods for specific SHTF scenarios that are most likely to happen in your neck of the woods.

Here is another view on the “100 Items to Disappear First in a Panic”: http://www.rense.com/general71/100.htm

  • James December 11, 2007, 7:01 pm

    Thanks Ranger MAn

    Reply
  • ryan December 21, 2007, 4:59 am

    I think there is an important distinction to make between barter items and precious metals. With the possible exception of pre 64 silver coins the only role of precious metals would be as a time machine to have wealth after SHTF. That being said i think 22lr would be more likely.

    For ammo ask around and see what cartridge most local deer hunters use. Could be 30-30 win or 30-06, etc. It very well may not be a common caliber nationally but in your state it is. Those are the folks with 1 box of ammo.

    Otherwise it is a good list.

    Reply
  • Ponce January 7, 2008, 8:46 pm

    Being from a country that has been living under TSHTF for the past 45 years I believe that I qualify to say somethimg….. pardon my English but I do write with a Spanish accent hahahahahah.

    Anyway, I am guilty of having a lot of ammo…..but, why?. If you cannot come with the enemy ammo and weapons with your first 500 rounds of your own then you are not worth a danm.

    What do you intent in doing? sit on a lawn chair and take turns taking a shot at each other?

    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER trade anything for your wisky and ammo…..they will drink the wisky and then come looking for you with your own ammo.

    In the crash of 29 we were able to recover with minimun damage for two reasons……1= foreign countries wanted what we made and 2 = WWII gave everyone a job…….. now days we export nothing and weapons are made by a few with the aid of robots.

    Get ready folks….is going to be very ugly.

    Reply
  • Yele January 14, 2008, 1:50 pm

    When it comes to bartering, you should NEVER trade away anything that has to do with weapons, especially guns & ammo. The people you trade with could turn around and rob and kill you and take everything you have!

    Reply
  • 14 year old May 29, 2008, 1:58 pm

    Why would you recomend firearms? I agree with Yele about the people turning the gun on you! I can understand stock pileing a few SKSs or a couple Winchester trappers in 357 magnum for you (trusted) friends and family members, but why use them as a barter items. I will be going to high school in August and even I know that trading a H & R Topper chambered in 12 gauge for a couple bags of potatoes and a can of beans is just DUMB. I do not care if I am straving, that is still a stupid deal!!!

    Reply
  • Anonymous September 15, 2008, 4:36 pm

    I am sorry about what i said, if i was starving i might make a differn’t choice

    Reply
  • barley September 19, 2008, 7:08 am

    Thanks for the good read, I will definitely return for an update!

    Reply
  • tracy October 1, 2008, 9:54 am

    repent or perish seek the kingdom of God first eat ye’ all of it The Lord God must be your strength
    Then you will be able to wield your sword or gun

    Reply
  • tracy October 1, 2008, 9:54 am

    repent or perish seek the kingdom of God first eat ye’ all of it The Lord God must be your strength
    Then you will be able to wield your sword or gun

    Reply
  • INfidel January 4, 2009, 11:32 pm

    Stumbled on this exchange surfing the TEOTWAWKI sites. When it comes to barter after the balloon goes up, the only thing people will want is food. The Just-In-Time inventory of all supermarkets and grocerey store will catch 90% of all Americans flat-footed. You may/may not remember the riots after R. King? … or when all the ghettos burned in the sixties? I was just a kid, but I remeber it well. That will be manifest in every city in America: and it will Joe Six-pack as the perp. Forget handing out ammo. Only after the intial tempest has subsided will there be any economy or barter. Do some reading on what happened in Argentina. IF it happens, read up on martial law initially, and then a socialtal collapse. Are ready to shoot your neighbor?

    Reply
  • Going2Heaven November 11, 2010, 11:15 am

    Alcohol is useful for killing pain and for medicinal purposes. It’s always good to have on hand.

    Reply
  • Diana July 11, 2011, 10:56 am

    On the ammo thing….should be powder, lead and brass…..as reloading ammo and gunsmithing will be the #2 job post Apocalypse……On Alcohol, couple hundred dollars will by you still via internet and instruction on how to make booze, distiller rates as #6 on the post Apocalypse jobs list…..Soap makers are in the top 20 jobs…….so learn an old skill and be relevant in the future……http://www.tenpoundhammer.com/2010/11/top-ten-post-apocalyptic-jobs.html
    hope this is helpful….

    Reply