There are many “xx items that go first after SHTF” lists out there on the internet. Most are the same old outdated stuff rehashed over and over. Some are just terrible, written by bloggers looking for something else to write, and some are decent but usually contain items specific to one scenario or another that may not apply to other situations.
Eventually everything will be gone if you wait long enough, but if you look at actual events such as a major hurricane here in the USA, the Greece financial meltdown, the collapse of USSR, the war in Syria, the situation in Venezuela, or any poor country that has been hit by a major disaster you’ll quickly see a pattern of items that disappear at the very beginning of a panic buying rush.
I have tried to condensed this pattern down to only 72 items and categorized them, here they are in no particular order.
Food & Supplies
- Bottled Water will be the first to go without fail.
- Canned Foods. People will just shove them into their carts without even looking at the labels. Another good barter item.
- Rice, Beans, Wheat, Flour and Yeast. All these basic ingredients will be traded in mass and quickly hoarded.
- Other grains whether marked for human or animal consumption will be hoarded quickly.
- Water Filters/Purifiers including bleach will be impossible to find after the first few days.
- Charcoal. Anyone without access to firewood will begin hoarding this immediately as they will see it as the only way to cook their food.
- Deer and wild game may be shot and wiped from your local area quickly. This is a heavily debated topic but at the very least all the non-hunters trampling through the woods will make them harder to find.
- Chickens, goats, cows, pigs and all other other forms of livestock will be worth their weight in gold, if not more. They will be hidden, hoarded, stolen, slaughtered, traded and sold quickly.
- Cooking Oils will go fast. They can also be used to make oil lamps.
- Milk, both powdered and condensed.
- Salt is a precious and portable commodity. Salt has long been a cornerstone of economies throughout history. Greek slave traders often bartered salt for slaves, giving rise to the expression that someone was “not worth his salt.” Roman legionnaires were paid with salt—salarium, the Latin origin of the word “salary.” It is a vital nutrient and is used to preserve meat. At less than $.40 a pound salt makes a great barter item to stock up on, especially if it goes back to its pre-modern prices.
- Cast iron pots and dutch ovens are long lasting and are made to be used over an open fire.
- Gardening Supplies such as seeds, books, and tools.
- Canning supplies including the jars, lids, pressure cookers, pectin, and other supplies. Most stores do not many canning supplies (even walmart has at best one shelf full?) so just a small handful of people could easily clean out an entire store.
- Jerky and other long lasting meats. Could snappin’ into a slim-jim save your life? Doubt it, I think roadkill has more nutrients (and more meat).
- Teas, Coffee, Gatoraide and Koolaides. Instant, ground, bagged, and the pouches will go fast but not as fast as other items.
Medicine & Health
- Hygiene supplies such as shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products, mouthwash, floss, etc
- First aid kits
- OTC meds. Tylenol, Advil, cold & flu, cough syrup. Caffeine and sugar withdrawals are going to make everyone feel like crap at first. Expect heavy pain reliever use the first few weeks (especially for headaches and general soreness).
- Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, and Toilet Paper. Did I mention toilet paper?
- Vitamins and Herbal Supplements. Taking a daily vitamin could mean the different between surviving comfortably or dying from a nutrient deficiency disease such as scurvy.
- Wine/Liquors will not be on the shelves for long. They are also good bartering tools, can be used medicinally, and are useful for making many herbal medicines (vodka is good for this).
- Gas masks, if they can be found, will fly off the shelves because of tear gas etc, and for the non-preppers, the “cool factor” of having a piece of actual survival gear will compel them to grab one.
- Baby/Toddler Supplies Things like formula, cloth diapers, wash cloths, and even cheap toys can mean a lot as barter items if you do not need them yourself.
- More Advanced Surgical and Medicinal Items. I’m dealing mostly with store bought items in this list but hospitals, urgent care, and veterinary clinics will be cleaned out quickly once they are shut down.
Camping & Outdoor
- Guns, cleaning kits, ammo, misc hunting and camping supplies. Pretty much anything in hunting and camping isles will be cleaned out and gone almost immediately.
- Flashlights, lanterns, and glowsticks. And don’t forget the batteries or fuel.
- Bow saws, axes and hatchets, wedges, machetes, hunting knives, sharpening stones and honing oil.
- Fishing supplies/toolsHunting wild game requires more knowledge than fishing. Everyone knows or can quickly learn how to fish.
- Camo and hunting clothes, kevlar body armor.
- Bug traps and sprays, and mice traps. mmmmm, rat stew.
- Tarps, plastic rolls, stakes, duct tape, twine, nails, rope, hammers and spikes or anything that can be used to fasten down something or improvise an shelter.
- Survival and medical related magazines, books and guides. All those lacking even the basic skills needed to grow food and survive will look for any information available.
- Wagons, wheelbarrows and carts (including shopping carts) will become a great way to transport things around.
- Gasoline Containers or anything that could be a gas or water container.
- Lumber and other building supplies.
- Clothes pins/line/hangers are often overlooked but important prepping items. They make life without a washing machine and dryer much easier.
- Insulated ice chests are half decent makeshift baskets and can keep items from freezing in the winter.
- Gloves. Gloves, gloves, and more gloves. They can keep you warm and protect your hands.
- Work boots, belts, blue jeans, thick socks.
- Cold weather clothing and weather clothing. Look for wool or polyester. Avoid cotton in the winter.
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Household Odds & Ins
- Candles Lots of them, but unscented and long burning. Stocking up on scented candles can be a real mistake. That fresh linen smell or peppermint orange will really get annoying after several weeks of daily use.
- Bleach. Make sure you get plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite bleach. Read the labels because, yes, you will be using this to purify your drinking water.
- Knives & Sharpening tools are worth mentioning on their own. Carbon steel knives are better than stainless. Sharpening stones are a must. Possibly the best all around knife you could ever buy is a high carbon steel Mora knife ($10 on Amazon with free shipping). The material is harder than stainless steel and they have a Scandinavian grind that makes them extremely sharp, durable, and even easier to resharpen than most knives.
- Backpacks, Duffel Bags. Don’t miss this. Everyone in your house should have at least one good quality good backpack or even a hiking bag. Hauling, supply runs, and bugging out are some of their many uses. Duffle bags might be cheaper but are a real pain to walk with compared to a backpack.
- Large garbage cans and garbage bags can be used for trash, storage, water collection, hauling goods etc. Garbage bags have dozens and dozens of uses, the thick 55 gallon size being the best.
- Cleaning and disinfecting supplies
- Paper, pads, pencils, sharpeners, pens, and solar calculators
- Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Mats and Inflatable Mattresses. A manually operated handheld pump is a must if you want an inflatable mattress.
- Buckets of all sizes and shapes. They will be used extensively.You never know how bad you need a container until you do not have one.
- Plastic Wrap and Insulation
- Glue, duct tape, nails, nuts, bolts, screws
- Portable Toilets or 5 gallon bucket toilet lids.
- Weapons, not just guns and ammo but also pepper spray, knives, clubs, bats, tasers, slingshots, pellet rifles.
- Washboards, plungers, mop buckets with a wringer for your laundry.
- Aluminum foil. The regular and heavy duty kinds can be used for cooking and to harness some power from the sun for purifying water and cooking.
- Brooms, shovels, rakes, pitchforks, pick axes, hoes, general gardening tools.
- Animal Control Products such as cage traps, dog collars and runners, etc.
Other Items Worth Having
- Bibles. 83% percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians, and many more will find their religion when the SHTF. Bibles will be in demand and can be used to barter items. A box of 100 small Bibles cost about $20.
- Prescription medications. How will you continue your medications without a pharmacy?
- Duct Tape and Electrical Tape can fix just about anything.
- Bicycles with tires, tubes, repair kits, pumps, chains, etc Bikes will become extremely valuable as they are the most efficient method of transportation.
- Hand pumps & siphons for gas, water, oil.
- Cigarettes A good bartering item, but salt is probably a better one.
- Generators will fly off the shelves. Buy now cause nothing will be available when they are needed. Options include solar, gas, diesel, propane, and kerosene. Generators are loud and people will kill over generators.
- Seasoned Firewood seasoned for 6 – 12 months.
- Lighters, matches, flint and steel fire starters, fire pistons A good rule of thumb is get 3x more than you think you will need. And just in case you never heard of fire piston, it is a handheld device that can start a fire with just air,so it makes a great addition to any plan.
- Batteries Buy all sizes and look at the expiration dates. Rechargeable batteries are ideal but more costly. Don’t forget about 12v car batteries and solar recharger stations.
- Solar Power Most people cannot go full solar but a basic (and portable) system could be built for a few hundred dollars and could power a few basic necessities when necessary.
- Smoke house and a root cellar can be invaluable for processing and storing food.
- Gold and Silver will be the new currency when things begin to settle but not so much during an ongoing situation. Gold and silver coins don’t matter much when you have no food.
- Motorcycles cheap(er), easy to maintain and gas goes a long way.
Extra items worth mentioning
A good manual or belt operated grain grinder would be a valuable tool. Put together a bug out bag (BOB) for every member of your family and set up multiple meeting areas around your neighborhood.
Walkie Talkies are great but remember to buy rechargeable batteries and a solar battery charger. Print out or copy any important documents you may need (especially ones online) now instead of later. Build any buildings you need ,such as a smoke house or root cellar, now instead of later. Stock up on some motor oil, it can be used to lubricate and protect metal items and tools.
These items will become so much more valuable after a SHTF situation happens, so now is the time to stock up on these things before something was to happen.
Think about when a hurricane is heading towards the United States. How quick does water, bread and other supplies sell out? When the SHTF people will start panicking and looting. All these items will be gone super quick so this is very important to go ahead and get some of these items. Plus they are good for bartering. So win-win.