12 Barter Skills for Preppers

Bartering skills will be very important when SHTF

We’ve talked about items to store for trade when the SHTF, but only briefly touched on important barter skills. The great thing about using our skills as currency is that we have a never-ending ability to continue making transactions.

What Kind of Barter Skills Are Worthwhile?

Many different skills can be used for barter but there are some that could be in particularly high demand when the SHTF. Think about some of the issues that people will face:

  • Lack of medical care
  • No grocery stores
  • Damaged homes
  • Outgrown or damaged clothing

If you have the skills or supplies to help people meet these needs, your expertise will be in high demand.

Here are some barter skills worth developing.

Medical Skills

One of the most valuable skills you can have when the SHTF is the ability to keep sick or injured people alive. Those who are professional EMTs, doctors, nurses, and medics will be in high demand.

If you already possess these skills, focus your preps on necessary supplies, such as wound care items, essential medications, diagnostic tools, and manual equipment.

Food preservation is an excellent barter skill to know

Food Preservation

Being able to preserve food for the long term is a very important skill in a post-grocery store and post-refrigeration world. Canning, drying, fermenting, and pickling are all ways that food can be put back without the grid. If this is the skill you intend to barter, store things like canning jars, lids, and supplies to package dried foods for your future customers.

Home Repair

There’s a good chance that if we’re facing a world in which the S has HTF, our homes will have sustained some damage. Whether that is from attacks by enemy troops or natural disasters, the fact remains that carpentry, roofing, and other types of repair skills will be sought-after.

If this is one of the barter skills in which you excel, stock up on things like manual tools, hardware, tar, and other home-repair essentials.

Sewing and Needlecraft

Do you have a knack for sewing, mending, knitting, or crocheting? These and many other fabric and fiber skills will see a renaissance if events mean that we can no longer run to the store for new socks or clothing. If you can make clothes from scratch, you’ll never be without customers.

It might sound frivolous to think about getting new clothes when everything comes tumbling down, but remember, children will not stop growing and your clothing will really take a beating in a world during which you work more physically than you do currently.

Stock up on needles, hooks, thread, textiles, manual sewing tools, scissors, fasteners, and yarn.


The production of food will be incredibly important in a world without grocery stores. Raising livestock, keeping chickens, gardening, bee-keeping, and maintaining an orchard would be prominent skills. Remember that if you intend to raise livestock, you’ll need to consider how you intend to feed them to keep them productive.

Another very important facet of this skill is protecting your property. A thriving farm would be a very attractive target to people who think in the short term.

Farmers should stock up on seeds, garden tools, fertilizers, and pest control.

Hunting and fishing are great barter skills, too


Just as important as raising food is acquiring it from the land around you.

The ability to hunt and fish is all but lost in the modern age. If you know how to acquire meat and field dress it, not only will you keep your own family fed, but you’ll also be able to barter what you can’t use yourself.

Foraging is another lost skill. Being able to safely identify vegetation and fungi that are safe to eat can add much-needed variety to your diet.

If you plan to do this, make sure you stockpile fishing gear, ammo, fletching supplies, and knives.


Delivering babies is a skill I see as separate from general medical skills. Pregnancy, unless high-risk, should not be treated as an illness. It’s a natural event as old as time. Some assistance from a person skilled in midwifery can help greatly to reduce the risk of maternal death.

Midwives will want to stock up on sanitation supplies as well as tools such as forceps, scissors, hemostats, and speculums.

Gun Repair

You don’t see a whole lot of gunsmiths any more but when the SHTF they’ll be in high demand. Your firearm could very likely be your lifeline, and keeping it in good repair is important.

If this is a skill that interests you, start now to learn how to do it, and begin collecting the tools and supplies that you’ll require. Be sure to focus on manual tools.


Another almost-lost art is blacksmithing. The ability to work with metal means that you can make and repair essential items and tools.

To practice blacksmithing, you’ll need a forge, an anvil, a vice, and some protective gear. Sourcing metal after a collapse should not be too difficult – there will be non-working vehicles and other motherlodes of metal everywhere. A good blacksmith will be in high demand for knives, tools, and simple machines.

Shoe Repair

You don’t see a lot of cobbler shops in America these days, but after the SHTF the ability to repair shoes will be a very viable barter skill. Everyone will be looking to make their shoes go further when they can no longer simply replace worn-out footwear.

Leather working tools, material for soles and heels, and a hand crank shoe repair machine are among the vital supplies for cobblers.


It might sound kind of frivolous, but barbers and hairdressers will never go hungry. Even in a post-SHTF world, people will want haircuts and other maintenance. In a collapse that is less than catastrophic, people will want to look presentable for job interviews, funerals, or other events.

Hairdressers should have good shears, a straight razor, a cutting comb, capes, sanitizers, and sharpeners.


Finally, communications will be more important than you might think right now. In a time with no cell service, no phone lines, and no internet, people will still want to be able to get word to and from their loved ones. Those who have a ham radio will be in a good position to provide this vital service.

If you are considering this as a barter skill, check out this book to learn more about ham radio for preppers and this one to study for your technician’s exam.

To provide communications services, you’ll need a ham radio, additional radio gear such as antennas, and a way to power your radio.

What Barter Skills Are You Planning to Develop?

Barter skills are a great way to plan for collapses big or small. Start now by assimilating the gear that you need and perfecting your skills.

Additional Resources:



12 Barter Skills for Preppers

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Ash Duncan

Ash Duncan and family live on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they enjoy hiking with their dogs, spending time outdoors, and watching apocalyptic movies.

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  1. grayfox114 on February 20, 2023 at 7:08 pm

    I have a collection of about 200 animal traps, and the skills and knowledge to use them! The traps are both leg holds and Conibear/killer traps. Traps, once placed, work for you 24 hours a day. The animals captured could be used, bartered, sold, and the skills to use traps would be quite valuable as a barter item!

  2. LadyLifeGrows on February 20, 2023 at 8:11 pm

    Old fashioned cooking from scratch. Today’s youth often do not even know what a pot or pan is.
    I hope to teach kids cooking, cleaning, sewing, arithmetic, etc.

  3. Richard on February 23, 2023 at 10:45 pm

    Knowing CPR, Heimlich, and basic first aid is critical. Basic hand tools, cordless power tools, and the know-how to use them skillfully will be worth more than precious metals. Got a Boy Scout Handbook, Girl Scout, and a set of Peterson Field Guides, and any of Tom Brown Jr’s survival books.

  4. Richard on February 23, 2023 at 10:47 pm

    Should have put this first, because it is the most important-your brain, keep calm, think things through.

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