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25 Best Items to Barter to increase your survival chances

Last updated on June 26, 2021
In emergencies, you need items to barter to increase your survival chances. Find out what are the best 25 items to barter in survival situations.

Do you need extra items to barter?

You might have come across the term ‘barter’. However, do you exactly know how it works? The term ‘barter’ came into existence in emergencies when services and goods may not be available to people through normal methods.

Many people think bartering is something that is applicable when they are unemployed or out of cash. People have been practicing bartering for ages. It is a smart way to get goods and services instead of cash.

During the great depression, people made good use of the barter system. The dollar collapsed, and people used basic items as currency. They bought necessary items in exchange for items that became useful as currencies. Tobacco, alcohol, and many such items became currency and were used as barter and trade items instead of dollars or other currencies because these items were worth so much more.

The recent pandemic 'COVID-19' that has hit the world badly has shown that the barter system is still applicable.

What does the term 'barter' mean?

A barter system is an act of exchanging services or goods between two or more parties without using money or monetary mediums like debit cards or credit cards. The bartering system involves buying goods or services from one party in exchange for goods or services from the other party.

An example of a barter system is easily understandable by the following example. A carpenter builds a fence for a farmer. The farmer pays him $1000 worth of foodstuff or crops instead of paying him $1000 cash for material and labor services.

What does barter mean?

How to identify which items are good to barter?

If the item meets one or more criteria mentioned below, then it is a good barter item.


Consider buying products that you can store in large quantities without having to spend a lot of money on them. The value of these goods may increase with passing the time if they are high in demand but not generously available in the market.


There is no set time when you will use the stored items for the barter system. It is better to consider items that have a long shelf life. Do not stock too many goods, as they will lose their potency with time. Sometimes, the environment or animals also damage the stored items.

Easy to store

Always buy items that are smaller and light-weighted. This will help you in storing them easily without occupying much space. Heavy or larger items become difficult to store because they require bigger space. However, if you have space, then you may consider buying them.

How do individuals barter?

When two parties each have the items that the other party wants, they pay each other by exchanging the things they want instead of paying cash for the item bought.

For example, if a party has 10 pounds of rice that is worth $10, they can exchange it with the party that needs rice and buy some item in exchange that is worth $10.

How do companies barter?

Companies also practice a barter system when they do not have credit or cash to buy goods from them. It is a smart way of trading because it limits the risks factor of foreign exchange.

A common example of companies bartering is exchanging their advertising space. Many companies practice this type of trade where they offer each other to use their platform to advertise and exchange services.

Items to barter or barter goods

What are the best items to barter?

Many items are useful during emergencies. Countries that go through difficult times and cannot afford to buy goods or services from other foreign countries practice barter systems.

Following are the best barter goods in survival situations.

1. Medicine

First aid items are good to barter, especially when pharmacies are short of medicines that are in high demand.

It covers items such as:

  • painkillers
  • antibiotics
  • allergy medications
  • disinfectants
  • ointments
  • bandages

2. Fuel

During survival situations, fuel becomes one of the best items to barter. As fuel stations shut down, the supply of fuel becomes limited.

Gas, propane, diesel, kerosene are sources of heat and light to many people. It is important for people who use vehicles and generators. Countries can store fuel to barter if they are short on cash and unable to pay for items during the trade.

3. Foods and ingredients

In survival situations, food items are always short. These items are always run out when their demand is high.

Items that are of most value in emergencies are the following:

  • Dehydrated vegetables and fruits
  • Home-grown items
  • Eggs
  • Long-lasting food items
  • Tinned food
  • Cooking oil
  • Dry goods, such as beans, rice, noodles, flour, and popcorn
  • Cured meat
  • Yeast packets
  • Powdered milk
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Stevia
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Bouillon
  • Spices
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Vinegar

4. Powdered gravy

When homegrown vegetables and spices are out of stock, powdered gravy saves the day. They add taste to meals that would taste bland if a certain amount of spices are missing.

5. Baby supplies

When talking about storing goods for emergencies, one must not forget babies. It is important to store all the useful baby supplies such as diapers, baby foods, ointments, and baby medicines.

All baby supplies are important commodities that come in handy daily.

6. Alcohol

When the world experienced the Great Depression, alcohol became one of the items that were of great value. In hard times, it provides the best value to barter.

Another important thing about alcohol is that it is also useful for hygienic and medicinal purposes.

7. Tobacco

Many people release stress by smoking cigarettes. If provided in limited quantity, tobacco would become one of the best items to barter for people in need.

8. Batteries

Who would have thought of batteries becoming a useful commodity? Well, when facing survival situations, every minute thing is worth a lot. As the power shuts down, the demand for flashlights increases.

To use those flashlights, you need to have enough batteries for their functioning. This is how normal, and rechargeable batteries come in handy in survival conditions.

9. Candles

Candles are also useful when you run out of batteries to turn on flashlights. When power shuts down and you have no other way to lighten up the room, candles save your day.

They come in different sizes, so you have the options to store whatever size suits you best.

10. Chicken

Chickens are other important items to barter. They lay eggs and live off scraps. Keeping a rooster can help you increase the number of chickens.

If provided water and feed, they become a useful commodity in difficult times.

11. Vitamins

Hard times bring numerous difficulties in life. People have less food to eat, or they prefer feeding their children before they fill their stomachs.

The change in their diet leaves many people without access to the proper vitamins and nutrients that they require for a healthy diet.

12. Seeds

Seeds are an important tradable item that works for countries that cultivate their own foods. Growing your own food may become necessary when countries are hit by calamities.

13. Hygiene products

Pharmacies often run out of items when any calamity hits a country. It is important to store items to barter when facing widespread disasters. Following are some of the hygienic products that are essential to have, as they are trade-worthy.

  • bar soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • wet wipes
  • deodorant
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • grooming supplies, including nail clippers, combs, razors for shaving

14. Toilet paper

Nothing can replace toilet paper. There are other toilet paper alternatives, but they shouldn't be your first choice. Toilet paper is important to have because hygiene plays a crucial role in staying healthy.

15. Soap and shampoo

Personal hygiene is important. You cannot just ignore yourself and stay dirty. These items become useful in our daily routines.

As the supply of these items slows down, soaps and shampoos will become short. Stocking them for survival times is a smart way as these goods are worth storing.

16. Female Hygiene Products

Stockpiling feminine hygiene products is also important. These items come in handy and are must-haves for female preppers. During the Great Depression, these items were worth hundreds of dollars. Some of the items to barter are:

  • menstrual cups
  • pads
  • tampons
  • sanitary napkins
  • perfumes

17. Condoms

Condoms are also imported goods during difficult times. They have multiple uses. Other than preventing babies, they are useful to waterproof items. They are small and easy to stock in large quantities.

18. Can Openers

When surviving difficult times, it is important to have all the necessary items. When fresh foods run out of the shelves, people have no choice other than to buy canned foods.

To open these seal-packed cans, you need a can opener. It is smart to store pocket can openers as they are light in weight, and you can store a maximum number of openers without occupying much space.

19. Solar lights

Another important item to stock is solar lights. They are cheap and sustainable that makes them an ideal barter item. Solar lights help you light up the place during nights when you need light the most.

20. Lighters and Matches

Although there are many ways to light fire. However, when lighting a gas stove at home, you definitely require lighters or matches. Since they are light in weight and smaller, you can easily stock them anywhere in your home.

21. Powdered milk

Powdered milk is also an important good to barter. When calamities hit, stores run out of many eatables and other important items. Powdered milk is also one of these items that run short easily.

22. Water filters

Everyone needs water to survive. You can use bottled water to fulfill people's needs, but storing them can become a hectic task. Being bulky, you will not be able to store more stock. This is why water filters are an important commodity.

Many people would not have access to clean water once a disaster struck. Storing some water filters can be useful as a barter item and provide you with clean water. Clean water is beneficial when it comes to cooking and staying hydrated.

23. Coffee

Countries already trade coffee. Just as smokers are addicted to tobacco, and it becomes an important commodity. Similarly, coffee is an equally important good to barter. It will be rarely available to countries due to the slowing down of trade.

Coffee will become a good that is worth a lot. Coffee gives energy, and during survival times, it will become one of the best barter goods.

24. Repair tools

When calamities hit the countries, people often have no other choice than do their work without extra help. They have to do repair things on their own, whether it is car repairing or fixing the sink.

You do not have any professional to do the job. However, if you have the right tools, then the job becomes easier.

25. Duct tape

Did you ever think that duct tape could be so important in our lives? Well, it is one of the best barter goods because of its numerous uses.

From fixing pipes to patching up clothes to mending taping wounds, duct tape is no doubt an important item.

How to barter goods smartly?

There are numerous ways to barter smartly. Some of the things you must consider for smart barter are as follows.

1. Use different locations to barter

Sticking to a specific location to barter can increase the risk of looting. Always use different locations to barter. It keeps the looters from predicting your next step.

2. Barter different goods

Another smart way to barter is to offer different goods. Do not stick to one product. Provide people with different options so they can come to revisit you.

3. Never disclose your stock location.

It is important to hide your stock even from your closest friends. You may trust your friends, but people who overhear them discussing your stock may not be trustworthy. Always keep your stock location a secret.


It is important to store items for difficult times. When calamities hit places, people face innumerable difficulties. Countries run out of cash to trade goods.

This is the time when barter goods become useful. Countries that store these goods for survival situations always have something to feed their people. 

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