Bartering for Survival

Bartering for survival could eventually mean the difference for being comfortable and healthy during the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it (TEOTWAWKI) scenario. While some people are stocking up on precious metals, in most situations where you need a good or a service, the people who have something you need may not be able to make change for a gold coin. Thus having something of value to exchange for something else of value without the exchange of money will be what constitutes survival bartering.

Even today on sites like Craigslist, more and more people are bartering what they have for what they need. Stories are told about people who have bartered their way up from something small like a cellphone to motorcycles, cars and even houses. Barter is a skill that you might consider developing now, and that starts with recognizing what barter is and what you have that might be of value to others.

What is Bartering?

Bartering means trading goods or services without exchanging money. If you are bartering for survival, money will be meaningless, so you will need to place value on your items in terms of what you need and how much the other person needs your item. Learning to barter will be a good skill to have and you can practice by haggling over prices and quantities at a flea market. You will need to be good at making compromises, judging an item’s value by eye and have a clear idea of what you want out of a situation.

What to Barter

When bartering for survival, you will need an idea of what items will be popular, and what skills will be in demand. In “stuff” hits the fan or SHTF situations, items that are manufactured such as soap and toilet paper, matches and batteries will be much in demand, as will ammunition and medicine. In terms of skills, having a skill or ability that someone else does not have will be important. Anything that can be done manually will be vital such as building, farming or cooking.

Stocking Up on Barter Goods

When you are putting together your survival kit, you will need to think about packing spare objects that you will use for bartering for survival. These need to be objects that you will use if you’ve gone a while without meeting someone, but also need to be universally useful to someone in the same situation as you.

Finally, you might want to consider stocking up on those goods that you will have or keep at your survival retreat, and those you might need to be able to carry in a bugout.

A Sample Shopping List

You can use almost any item when bartering for survival, but you should make up your shopping list such as:

Household Items:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Batteries, the rechargeable ones
  • Solar battery chargers
  • Bleach
  • Candles
  • Rope, string, cordage
  • Duct tape
  • Glue of all kinds
  • Rubber bands
  • Safety Pins
  • Scissors
  • Silicon spray
  • Soap
  • Storage buckets with lids
  • Tarps/plastic sheeting
  • Utility knives
  • Windup radio
  • Windup or cranking flashlights
  • Small metal stainless pots or bowls
  • Matches
  • Flint & steel
  • Zip lock baggies


  • Cloth diapers
  • Baby clothes
  • Flip-flops
  • Needles and thread
  • Yarn and knitting needles or crochet hooks
  • Shoes and laces
  • Socks and underwear
  • Winter coats and rain gear
  • Boots
  • Gloves such as work, garden and winter


  • Combs
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Feminine products
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Razors
  • Soap
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Alcohol such as isopropyl or rubbing
  • Band-Aids of all sizes
  • Disposable gloves
  • Super glue
  • OTC medicines
  • Hydrogen peroxide


  • Candy
  • Canned and Dried Food
  • Canning jars, lids, wax
  • Coffee filters, which can be used for water filters
  • Coffee or tea
  • Cooking Oil
  • Drink flavors
  • Eating & Cooking utensils
  • Salt, spices
  • Sugar
  • Vegetable seeds (heirloom)

Hunting/Food Gathering:

  • Guns
  • Ammunition (esp. 22lr and 12g)
  • Bows and arrows
  • Bug repellent
  • Animal traps
  • Fishing line, hooks
  • Knives
  • Snare wire


  • Knives, hatchets, axes
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Mirrors
  • Nails and screws
  • Non-electric hand-tools
  • Pencils and sharpeners
  • Paper
  • Playing cards or dice for games
  • Pocket knives
  • Pocket-sized New Testaments
  • Cigarettes
  • Liquor
  • Simple water filters
  • Toilet paper
  • Eye glass repair kits
  • Gold and silver
  • Canteens

Look around your home for items without which you would be lost if you could no longer make a quick trip to the corner store to buy more. Those items should then be added to your bartering for survival shopping list. While it is not necessary to have everything on this list, you should be able to get at least a few items at a really, good price and have room to store them.



  Real Survival Skills © 2012