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    25 Best Barter Items for a Post-Collapse World

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    25 Best Barter Items for a Post-Collapse World

    During the widespread shut-downs in the early months of the pandemic, we could still rely on essential services. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and public utilities remained open and running. We had time to purchase and stock up on the goods we needed, and many online marketplaces saw their business soar.

    However, in a post-collapse world, all the cash and credit cards in the world won’t do you much good. Experts believe we would need to turn to barter as a way to survive this kind of shut-down.

    Defined as trading goods or services for other goods or services without the exchange of money, barter is something for which you can plan. Just as you stock up on the items your family will use in a disaster, you can also stock up on things to barter for anything else you might need.

    Here is a list of some of the best barter items for a post-collapse world.

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    1. Water

    We all know that water is necessary for survival. While we can survive a few weeks without food, we can only survive a few days without water to drink. Plus, we need water for cooking and hygiene purposes. In a long-term disaster scenario, water purification tablets and filters will be in high demand.

    2. Food

    Non-perishable, calorie- and nutrient-dense foods are your best bet for barter. Here are some ideas: freeze-dried, de-hydrated, canned, and smoked goods, dried fruit, nuts, MREs, protein bars, and protein powders.

    3. Hand Tools

    People won’t want to waste what little power supply they have on electric or battery-powered tools. So, focus on basic hand tools like hammers, screwdrivers, saws, shovels, and hatchets for bartering purposes.

    4. Hygiene Supplies

    We saw how toilet paper flew off the shelves during the shut-downs of 2020. Stock up on that precious commodity as well as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwash, disposable razors, feminine products, condoms, and diapers.

    5. First Aid

    Prescription and over-the-counter medications may be in short supply during a long-term crisis. Here are some remedies you should stock up on for bartering purposes: antibiotic ointment, pain relievers, calamine lotion, burn salve, bandages, gauze, medical tape, alcohol wipes, and examination gloves.

    6. Fuel

    All types of fuel — gasoline, diesel, propane, butane, kerosene — will be needed to run everything from vehicles to heaters.

    7. Lighting

    No one wants to live in the dark. Candles, lanterns, flashlights and other lighting options will all be valuable when the grid is down.

    8. Power

    People also will need matches, lighters, and flint fire steel to light their lanterns and start their fires to cook and stay warm. Batteries and chargers of all kinds will be top commodities. You’ll get high barter value from solar chargers and the batteries that go with them.

    9. Alcohol

    People will trade for spirits to drink during a stressful time, and alcoholic beverages will come in handy for wound care and even as a painkiller.

    10. Cleaning Products

    Remember when Clorox wipes were sold out at every store? Cleaning supplies will be coveted during a long-term disaster. In addition to the canisters of antibacterial wipes, you can stock up on bleach. For gentler all-purpose cleaning, have plenty of baking soda and white vinegar on hand.

    11. Spices

    Salt, sugar, herbs, condiments, and seasonings are a way people can make their emergency meals taste better. Stock up on long-lasting honey as well, since it doubles as a sweetener and a nutrient.

    12. Plastic Trash Bags, Sheets, and Tarps

    People can use sheets, tarps and trash bags for all kinds of purposes, including shelter, groundcover under a sleeping bag, and rainwear. Smaller zippered plastic bags also will be valuable for storing and sorting items and keeping them safe from water damage.

    13. Duct Tape

    A roll of duct tape can be a lifesaver in literally hundreds of ways inside and outside the home.

    14. Coffee and Tea

    The taste of something hot and familiar will be in high demand by people who miss their morning cuppa during a prolonged shut-down of services.

    15. Entertainment

    With the internet down and the power off, time will weigh heavy on all of us. Here are some items that will take on increased value: books, magazines, playing cards, board games, pads of paper, coloring books, crayons, pencils, and pens.

    16. Clothing

    People may have to leave their homes with little notice, and, with stores closed and the internet down, they will have no way of getting the clothes they need. That's why it's a good idea to have a clothing stockpile. Coats, jackets, jeans, t-shirts, hoodies, socks, jeans, and gloves all will come in handy.

    17. Fishing and Hunting Supplies

    With fresh food at a premium, people will want to have the equipment, tools, and supplies needed to hunt or fish for their meals.

    18. Eyewear

    Reading glasses, prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses, goggles – all may be valuable commodities you can trade to others for something you need. Contact lens cleaning solution might become a valuable commodity.

    19. Knives

    As people build, hunt, and fend for themselves in many new ways, the right knives will be essential. Fixed blades, kitchen knives, and multitools will all be useful for barter.

    20. Paracord

    Multi-use survival items like paracord and zip ties may well be worth their weight in gold during a longstanding crisis.

    21. Tobacco and DIY Cigarette Rolling Supplies

    With stores closed and tensions high, smokers are likely to run out of cigarettes fairly quickly. Just think of all the prison movies you’ve seen in which people barter for cigarettes.

    22. Self-Defense Items

    Small and portable self-defense items like pepper spray and bear spray will be useful for people to defend themselves against animal and human intruders.

    23. Garden Seeds

    Seeds for quick-growing vegetables and herbs will be very valuable for barter.

    24. Camping Equipment

    Tents, sleeping bags, Mylar blankets, hand warmers, outdoor stoves, and other outdoor supplies will be needed and in short supply.

    25. Sewing Supplies

    Needle and thread, knitting needles and yarn, and other sewing supplies will help people stay warm and clothed.

    The pandemic brought to light a new interest in the ancient art of bartering. Some of the shortages and struggles we have experienced over the past year and a half have led to barter groups cropping up on social media. Swap meets and flea markets are places you can barter in person.

    Keep in mind that you can also trade your services for items or your items for services. For example, you could exchange fishing lessons for clothing or vice versa.

    This list is intended to get you thinking about all the many items you can trade for the things or services you need during a large-scale crisis. We attempted to focus on items that are inexpensive and can last for a long time.

    What items would you add to the list?

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      6 thoughts on “25 Best Barter Items for a Post-Collapse World”

      1. To your Tobacco, self rolled items, I would add pipes to that list. Eventually rolling papers will cease to be available, so the means to smoke without relying on papers will become desperate.

      2. My post-calamity fishing supplies focus on non-sporting methods. Some of the items needed can be scrounged anytime, but not all. I suggest figuring out which methods for taking fish are most efficient for your area, and getting plenty of the gear that can’t be scrounged now. Example-trotline floats can be scrounged.Rope and twine, same. Hooks, particularly treble hooks, can be fabricated, but not with the quality of commercial hooks. This reduced quality will catch you fewer fish. Stock up. Hit the clearance section.

      3. There are a lot of things that I don’t have at the moment and fishing gear is one of them, thanks for the reminder
        My parents are starting to complain about my food preps, hoarding they call it. I pointed out to the both of them that the food that I have collected is mostly all in my room.

        Mum asked me last week if I had any washing machine powder in my preps, and I said no. That is going to change, I will be getting laundry things as of next year. And if she starts carrying on like a headless chicken, I will simply move my laundry items into the shed/ art room.

        I am the only one in the house that is prepping. I know only to well that If I told my brothers and sister and relatives what I was doing, they would think me nuts and laugh and mock me, so I don’t bother, it’s just not worth the trouble and greif that it would cause.

        Besides” loose lips sink ships” as the saying goes.

        I’ve got a lot fo things already but this list has given me some ideas on what I don’t have.

      4. We have almost all of the items listed. I don’t need them, but I made some washable feminine hygiene pads for if/when needed. I’ll be making some washable hygiene cloths as well. And I paper towels to use instead of paper towel. Yes, they use more water, but the last longer. I have a couple of 5 gallon buckets and a plunger for my washing machine. We need clean clothes even if we have no electricity. I’d love to have a rub board, but I can’t find one in my price range, so I’ll use what I have. Knowledge is also a bartering thing. How to make soap. How to pressure can and water bath can are things that can be taught. So is sewing, crocheting, and knitting. Girls used to be taught these things at home and then at school. Now no one teaches Home Economics. It’s so sad. Boys also need to know these things. Sewing a rip. Or sewing on a button. Cooking, cleaning, even washing clothes.

      5. One often overlooked item that can still be had inexpensively when found is a treadle sewing machine. Being able to make and repair clothing will be come a valuable barter commodity. Foot power used to run a lot of things included small lathes for making machine parts. A treadle setup could allow one to generate a small amount of electricity too.


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