Home Survival 101 7 SHTF Barter Items

7 SHTF Barter Items

by Ryan Dotson

bag of coffee beans spilled on a table around a steaming cup of coffee

Everybody in the survival community thinks they are prepared for a SHTF scenario. When everyone else is looting and losing their minds, we’ll be good to go.

However, you may really only be properly prepared for the initial phase. In a long-term survival scenario your supplies will eventually run out. Nobody has enough supplies stored to last forever. This will mean finding other people with supplies and trading for what you need.

This risky venture is a big part of survival. The other person might try to rob you or follow you back to camp. Take every precaution when you head out to barter.

Stick to business. You aren’t there to make a friend. Tell them what you have and what’s needed. Get the merchandise and get home. Also, be smart and bring a weapon just in case things go South.

Bartering Philosophy

Before you begin, it’s important to understand the principle behind successful bartering. You have probably heard the phrase “a win-win situation”. This is what you are looking for. Things can go bad quickly if anybody feels like they didn’t get a good deal. However, you can’t just give away your most valuable supplies.

It makes no sense to trade ammunition for food if you need it just as much. The key to good bartering is to give away something that has no value to you, but a lot of value to somebody else. It’s smart to stock up on items that you’ll never use that other people may want. Think about items that people crave that will be hard to find when the SHTF.

Bartering Items

Alcohol – Yes, you will need to keep booze on the shelf. Alcohol does nothing for you but cause dehydration, mess up your liver, and dumb you down. You will need to stay in top physical and mental condition to survive. However, other people will turn to the bottle to deal with the stress of survival.

Bottles of Jack Daniels whiskey

It can be a great bartering item if you can leave the alcohol alone. There is no need to go for top shelf. Cheap whiskey will be worth almost as much as the finest scotch when the SHTF. Stock small bottles to give you more trading flexibility.

Cigarettes/Chewing Tobacco – My whole family consists of non-smokers, but you can bet we will have a few cartons in a survival scenario. This is an effective bartering item for the same reasons as alcohol.

Marlboro cigarettes

People feel that tobacco relieves stress and also it’s highly addictive. Some people will do almost anything for a pack of cigarettes.

Chocolate/Candy – Something sweet will make your day when the diet consists of rice, beans, and whatever critters you can catch. It has very little nutritional value, but people crave the sweet fix. In addition, candy is great for keeping kids happy.

Snickers chocolate candy bar

This will be a huge priority when the SHTF. Parents will want to give their kids a good life, but the closest they may come is a chocolate bar. Just keep them in a cool spot so they don’t melt.

Luxury Toiletries – While hygiene is vital in a survival scenario, there are certain toiletry items that aren’t necessary. Products like shampoo, deodorant, cologne, perfume, hair spray, disposable razors, and hair gel serve no real hygiene purpose.

Moisturizer, razor, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and lotion

However, they might make someone’s day if you can make a trade. These items can make them feel like a real person again for just a moment.

Prescription Medications – You may stumble upon a home or pharmacy that has bunches of medications. Usually this medication is of no value to the person that finds it. However, grab that medication instead of walking out empty-handed.

Orange bottles with white lids of prescription medications

You may never need it, but might stumble upon somebody else that must have that medication. This makes for a great bartering item.

Coffee/Tea – Some people feel that caffeine is every bit as addictive as alcohol and tobacco. It also has a nostalgia about it. There is something special about sitting down with your family for breakfast and enjoying a cup of coffee or tea.

Coffee beans in a cloth sack and a white mug of steaming coffee

However, caffeine will dehydrate you. You can’t afford to be dehydrated when water is scarce. Plan to trade the coffee to get things you truly need.

Books – While I feel that exercising your mind is every bit as important as exercising your body, some books can be traded. I have a whole collection of books on survival subjects that I know cover to cover.

Shelf of survival books

I have read these books so many times, there is no need for me to keep them. Someone else may be in desperate need of survival knowledge. This is a great opportunity for a trade. Keep some fiction novels around, but you only need a few of the good ones to stay entertained. The rest you should be able to trade to help somebody else raise their spirits.

 

Final Thoughts

Bartering is one of the best ways to get the supplies you need as time goes on. It’s vital that you know the right way to barter. Of course, you can barter with surplus items. If you have 10,000 rounds of ammunition, you could probably spare a few.

However, it’s best to focus on items for which you have no use. The above list is just the beginning. Do some brainstorming to think of items that you and your family don’t need, but that someone else might want. Look for that win-win situation and help somebody else while you help yourself.

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