16 Best Barter Items and Services to Trade In Case of a Societal Collapse

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Bartering was a common practice before money came into the picture, though it is still practiced on a much smaller scale. While planning for a societal collapse might not be on your list of priorities, knowing which items could be most valuable if the worst-case scenario comes to life might be helpful. Money would likely become useless, so this is where bartering comes in. Here are some of the most valuable things to barter if doomsday or natural disaster strikes. 

Water filters 


We can’t survive without water for more than three days. But in some societal collapse scenarios, it may become a luxury worth more than gold and even someone’s life. Giving away water might be noble, but it is not the best for you and your family. However, bartering filters can be beneficial to both sides. 



The shortage of medications is highly likely in case of a disaster, which means they will be in high demand. Most of the medication available for bartering will be antihistamines, over-the-counter painkillers, flu meds, and antacids. Bartering what you have for what you need will be, in many cases, life-saving. 

Baby supplies

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Formula and diapers are essentials for babies, and if we learned anything from history, babies will be coming into the world regardless of what’s happening outside. Babies require much more, like pacifiers, bottlers, and toys, but formula and baby food are at the top of every parent’s list, making them priceless. 

First aid kit


Bandages and masks could be highly beneficial in many situations. That makes them great bartering things, though they are not the only first aid kid items that would likely be needed. Scissors, gloves, plasters, and antibiotic ointment packets should all be part of the first aid kit, and trading one thing for another will be a way to help others and yourself. 

Personal hygiene products


We saw it during the early stages of the Covid pandemic – people feel safer with enough toilet paper. But more items can be used for bartering, like soap, pads, tampons, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, etc. These are not luxury products, and though one can survive without them, they are necessary, making them easy to use to gain something you might be missing. 



Flashlamps, radios, handheld tools, and walkie-talkies are some of the things that need batteries to be valuable. That is why batteries are so important, though their lifespan is not admirable. That’s why batteries will likely become highly in demand and a tremendous bartering commodity. 

AM/FM radios


Old-school radios might be your only way to get updates from the outside world. Many small, portable ones work on batteries, and they don’t need the internet or electricity, making them irreplaceable in case of a disaster. If someone has an extra, it will be a good thing to trade for something they need more. 



After water, food is the most essential thing for survival. Some rely on canned goods, while others are piling up on peanut butter, spices, cocoa, beans, and nuts. It will be a good way for neighbors to help each other while combining their food supplies. 



Alcoholic drinks have numerous benefits, including actions such as antiseptics, fire fuels, and even pain relief. It is a mild sedative but potent enough that, in case of need, people had their teeth pulled after taking a whiskey shot. It is not something you should try at home, but it can be a helpful tip in case of a disaster. That’s why alcoholic drinks are so valuable. 



In case of societal collapse, apocalyptic, or doomsday scenarios, brand names will be replaced by natural fabrics and protective clothing. Warm and practical clothes and footwear will be vital, which is why they will likely be great bartering things. 

Ammunition and protection supply 


We can’t talk about doomsday or any similar event without discussing protection. Ammunition, for example, will likely be essential for Americans, while people with strict gun rules will have to turn to knives, bows and arrows, and axes. All these items will be valuable in hunting as much as in protecting from wild animals or worse.  

Precious metals 


Many predictions claim that gold will replace money in case of societal collapse. It will be followed by silver, another metal previously used as a currency. Other precious metals with exceptional properties can be utilized in various industries and everyday applications.

Sporting, hunting, or fishing gear

Illustration. Depositphotos

Sporting gear offers greater protection, while fishing and hunting gear will possibly be necessary for those in search of food. Fishing rods, nets, hunting knives, and clothes and footwear for these activities are some of the less thought-off but still significant bartering things. 



People needed the entertainment to relax and escape during wars, pandemics, and even natural disasters. While the internet will likely not be an option, board games, books, and musical instruments will be highly desirable items. Old CD and cassette players will also regain their lost popularity. 

Coffee, tea, sodas 


Caffeinated drinks, coffee, tea, or various sodas are helpful because they help people focus. Tea has health benefits, but a day without a cup of coffee is unimaginable for most Westerners. If things really turn for the worse, a cup of Joe will be a reminder of what life used to be and a comfort, making it an excellent barter item. 



While your degree in business might not be helpful in case of societal collapse, knowing how to sew, fish, cook, hunt, or garden can be your bartering point. Not all services will be ranked the same, and as expected, first aid will likely be above all others. Basic medical knowledge will get you most of what you might need, and you will be saving lives, which is priceless. 

Kate Smith, a self-proclaimed word nerd who relishes the power of language to inform, entertain, and inspire. Kate's passion for sharing knowledge and sparking meaningful conversations fuels her every word.