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None of us like to think about an economic collapse or apocalyptic disaster, but with the instability of the economy and increasing natural disasters there is a real potential for the Stuff to Hit The Fan (SHTF).  I am not a doom and gloom survivalist, but I am a realist, and feel it is important that we are prepared for the worst.

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In the digital age, the act of exchanging actual currency has become a thing of the past.  For most we simply swipe a card with no real thought of exchange, but in a grid down situation your credit cards will become useless.  If our economy was to collapse the US dollar could be rendered valueless, and be good for nothing but tinder.

So what do you use to barter with when it comes to the exchange of goods?  During my travels in Haiti where bartering is still heavily practiced I saw trade as a daily practice.  These 21 items were the most commonly used when it came to bartering.  (Not all items come from experience in Haiti, many are just items in high demand.)

21 Items You Can Barter When SHTF

  1. Cigarettes – they can be traded individually, in packs, or in cartons.
  2. Alcohol – stock up on small bottles which will afford you more opportunities for trade, or better yet learn to distill your own.
  3. Precious Metals/Silver/Gold/Jewelry – These highly sought after valuables have been some of the only true currency for thousands of years, and will still be the go to currency.  I personally save all the silver coins I come across.
  4. Ammo/Guns – 12ga, 22lr, 7.26×39, and 9mm luger are the most commonly used ammo throughout.  Have a good variety in your inventory.
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    Canned and Dried Foods – Hangry wont begin to describe the hostility people will have when food shortages arise.  There is nothing worse than watching someone you love starve to death.  Having excess  food could have a huge impact in your favor when it comes trade.

  6. Pain Killers/Antibiotics/Medications – Sickness and infection will be on the rise with the lack of definitive care.  Medications and medical skills will become a valuable asset.  I highly encourage you to get medical training.
  7. Purified Water / Water Filters – Having the capability to drink clean drinking water is vital to your health and overall well being. You need to have several hundred gallons in reserve.
  8.  Fuel/Batteries/Power – We are extremely dependent on power in more ways than one.  Batteries are small and can hold a shelf life for years.  Fuel on the other hand is bulky and volatile if exposed to spark.
  9. Candle/Lanterns/Flashlights – Nothing worse than being stuck in the dark for long periods of time.
  10. Shoes – I had several people beg to trade me stuff for my shoes while I was oversees.  I actually ended up giving away every pair of shoes I brought (3 pairs to be exact), and had to borrow a pair from a friend so I could get on the airplane home.
  11. Toilet Paper – Yes the one paper that will actually be currency when crap hits the fan.
  12. Tampons/Feminine Hygiene Products – This can be a difficult area to consider, but if you have a wife, teenage daughter, or women in your party these are very real needs to consider.
  13. Toiletries/Soap – Staying clean is extremely important when it comes to avoiding infection and sickness.
  14. Coca Cola – I would have never guessed Coca Cola would be in Haiti, but it is everywhere, and people love it.  This favored soda is even featured under the identity of Nuka Cola in one of the most popular post apocalyptic video games Fallout, where the player trades the soda for other goods.  I know that is a video game, but I guarantee it will have value.
  15. Salt/Sugar – Not only are they essential to our body, they also increase flavor in our foods. Salt is still traded all across the world today.
  16. Matches/Lighters/Fire Starters – The ability to start a fire is crucial, and without a proper fire starter hypothermia is sure to set in on those cold winter nights.
  17. Heirloom Seeds – Granted the soil is a viable source for growing food, seeds could come in extremely useful.
  18. Warm Clothing – Wool clothing and socks are some of the warmest and most insulative, and on those cold winter days they would be worth their weight in gold.
  19. Books – In a grid down environment, or in the case someone destroys them in an attempt to rewrite history, books are the only real records of our civilization, not to mention the entertainment/enjoyment factor they provide.
  20. Specialty Items – Condoms, watches, coffee, charcoal, playing cards, make-up/cosmetics, gas mask, hazmat suits, you name it.  Anything that might be of value to someone else can be considered a trade good.
  21. Twinkies – “Those spongy, yellow, delicious bastards.” – Zombieland

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Justin “Sage” Williams

Director of Operations
Lead Instructor
Sigma 3 Survival School

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