Top 16 Barter Items Every Prepper Should Have

What would you do if or when financial systems fail and money is no longer valued in the way it used to be? When money becomes worthless you will be turning to a system that has been around for a long time, bartering. 

Barter Items Every Prepper Should Have

Bartering is a system of exchanging goods or services for other goods or services that do not generally involve money. 

Here is an example. You are interested in obtaining some beef from a local farmer because your meat supplies are running low. Instead of giving the farmer money, you instead give him something that he requires. Maybe he will sell you the beef in exchange for manual labor around the farm or for a box of hunting ammunition.

Either way, this is how bartering works which is why it is a good idea to stock up on certain items that will become valuable to people during hard times. To that end, here is my list of some of the top items preppers should have to be used for bartering. 

Items For Bartering Every Prepper Should Have…

Cash, Silver, and Gold 

I am not a financial advisor but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some cash or other valuables such as silver or gold on hand.

These probably won’t be all that useful in a long-term event and other items on this list will prove to be more valuable which is why I recommend stocking this item sparingly. When times become hard enough there is a saying to remember, “you cannot eat gold.”

Check out this article on building an emergency survival fund.

Canned Goods 

When the SHTF canned goods will be a good bartering item. They do not require refrigeration or cooking to be consumed and they have a relatively long shelf life. Food is valuable as people will always need to eat. 

Fresh Food

When going to the store is no longer an option, any kind of fresh food will be highly sought after. This includes meats, cheese, milk, eggs, fruits, herbs, and vegetables.


Water is so critical to life that pretty much anything associated with it will be worth wild to have. Items to stockpile would be water itself, filters, ways to purify water, and water containers. 

Medical Supplies 

There are far too many supplies to list but any medical and first aid supplies that you can be stocked will be highly desirable. This includes “odd” items like insect repellant and sunscreen. 

Luxury Consumables 

Items under this category are not items that people necessarily need but that they desire. I am not condoning the use of some of these but some of the items include, cigarettes, liquor, coffee, sweets, chocolate, etc.


Hand soap, body soap, detergents, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products, toilet paper, toothbrushes and paste, etc. 

Hand Tools 

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Screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, pliers, axes, saws, knives, sharpeners, etc. And do not forget a variety of hardware such as screws, nails, nuts, bolts, washers, etc. 


Includes gasoline, diesel, propane, oils, heating oils, and portable stove fuels. 

Make sure to consider long-term storage options for gasoline.


Includes firearms, bows, slingshots, ammunition, and anything else you deem necessary in this category. 


Batteries are going to be one of the first things to fly off of the shelves during a disaster. There are many gadgets that we depend on and they will need a power source to keep functioning.

When stocking up on batteries try and find packages with the longest expiration date on it. 


No one likes being stuck in the dark which is why a good flashlight can be a handy barter item. 


Many people do not make their own clothes let alone repair them. If an event goes on long enough, clothing is going to be highly sought after. This would include socks, coats, hats, gloves, footwear, and rainwear. 

Duct Tape 

Duct tape is a seriously useful item. During a disastrous event gear, clothing, vehicles, and homes may not be able to be properly fixed when things break. Other than having other useful survival applications, during bad times duct tape will become the go-to Mr. Fix It item to have. 


Fire may not seem like it plays an important part in our modern lives but it will always have an important role in our survival.

Ways to create fire are cheap, abundant, and easily stored. Stock up on cigarette lighters, wood matches, stormproof matches, ferrocerium rods, magnesium rods, and any other tools for making fire. 

Knowledge and Skills 

This category is often overlooked as people tend to focus on physical items to barter. But do not forget your most valuable resource, your brain. Bartering knowledge and skills will be just as valuable as physical items.

Here are just a few areas that you could take up as a hobby now that could pay dividends in the future. Sewing, mechanic, plumber, electrician, carpenter, gardener, medic or first aid skills, how to preserve food, leatherworking, blacksmithing, etc. 

Wrapping it Up

The above list is some of the top categories and items I think would be great for bartering. Since no list is really set in stone, we would love to hear from you.

What are the top items you considering having during times of bartering? Sound off in the comment section below and thanks for reading!

Written by Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021. Read more of Bryan's articles.