Frontline Bartering: Equip Yourself with the Most Coveted Survival Commodities

emergency preparedness, knives -

Frontline Bartering: Equip Yourself with the Most Coveted Survival Commodities

Want to be apocalypse-rich? Dive into how to become a “trade master,” armed with the right commodities to put you at the top of the food chain when SHTF.

Today, we’ll talk about alcohol and knives: two of the best trade goods in any post-collapse scenario.

A long row of outdoor knives laid out on a table.

Best Knives for Bartering When SHTF


A full-tang survival knife ensures that the blade extends throughout the handle, providing exceptional strength ideal for rigorous survival tasks.

Selection Criteria: When choosing a full-tang knife, prioritize one constructed with a single piece of steel. This enhances durability and handling under stress. Look for knives with a balanced weight distribution for easy use during long tasks.

The handle material is also crucial; materials like micarta offer excellent grip even in wet conditions, and scales should be securely riveted or screwed in place. Blade thickness should be between 4mm and 6mm for the optimal mix of flexible and sturdy.

Ideal Uses: This knife is perfect for demanding tasks such as batoning wood to make kindling, constructing shelters, or even as a lever in emergency situations.

Bartering Insight: The universal necessity for a reliable, sturdy knife in survival situations makes the full-tang knife a top-tier barter item. Emphasize its versatility and lifetime durability when trading, as these are highly prized qualities in any survival gear.

This type of knife appeals to seasoned outdoorsmen and newcomers alike, making it an essential item in any barter-based economy. When bartering, showcase examples of its use in critical survival tasks to highlight its indispensable nature.

Related Read: The 5 Knives Every Survivalist Needs


Bushcraft knives are specially designed to handle the intricacies of woodland crafts, making them indispensable in survival scenarios.

Selection Criteria: The ideal bushcraft knife should have a comfortable, non-slip handle and a blade that offers both precision and resilience. Blade material should ideally be carbon steel for easy sharpening in the field.

The spine of the blade should be flat and robust, allowing it to be used with a firesteel. Additionally, consider the sheath; leather offers durability and aesthetic appeal, but a hard-shell synthetic sheath can offer better moisture resistance and quick access.

Ideal Uses: These knives excel in wood carving, food prep, and other bushcraft tasks such as creating traps or processing natural fibers for cordage.

Bartering Insight: A bushcraft knife's value in a bartering situation comes from its fundamental role in wilderness survival. It’s a tool that supports both the basic and advanced skills necessary for living off the land, making it extremely valuable to those aiming to thrive in natural settings.

In bartering, position it as a tool for empowerment in self-sufficiency, highlighting specific survival tasks it can accomplish, from fire-making to shelter-building. Demonstrating the knife's utility in everyday camp tasks can also enhance its perceived value.

A man sharpening a knife on a block.


Neck knives offer rapid access and unobtrusive carry, making them excellent secondary blades.

Selection Criteria: For a neck knife, key attributes include blade sharpness, retention, and overall design ergonomics. The blade should be made from a high-quality stainless steel to prevent rust, with a full-tang design if possible to enhance durability.

The cutting edge should be easy to maintain, and the knife should come with a secure, easily accessible sheath that protects you from accidental injury. Consider the weight and profile of the knife—it should be light enough to wear comfortably, but substantial enough to handle necessary tasks.

Ideal Uses: Ideal for tasks requiring quick and easy access to a sharp blade, such as cutting through ropes, opening packages, or detailed carving.

Bartering Insight: The convenience of neck knives makes them highly desirable in settings where quick action is required. They can be bartered effectively by emphasizing their role in personal safety and purpose for daily activities.

Highlighting their stealth and accessibility can appeal to those who prioritize readiness and quick response. Additionally, their affordability compared to larger knives makes them an accessible yet valuable item for trade.

Related Read: 10 Places to Conceal Your Knife


The Bowie knife is a symbol of rugged utility and self-reliance, renowned for its large size and distinctive shape.

Selection Criteria: When selecting a Bowie knife, consider blade length and material. A length of six to twelve inches is typical, with carbon steel being a preferred material for its toughness and ease of sharpening. The point should be sharp and the edge should include both straight and curved sections for versatility.

The guard should be sturdy to protect the hand during heavy chopping or when used defensively. Additionally, the grip should fit comfortably in the hand, made from a durable material like stacked leather or hardened rubber for control.

Ideal Uses: This knife excels in more aggressive tasks such as chopping, hunting, and as a formidable tool for defense.

Bartering Insight: The Bowie knife's bartering strength lies in its iconic status and multifunctional use. It is as much a survival tool as a weapon, making it extremely valuable in precarious environments.

When bartering, emphasize its security and use in significant survival tasks like hunting and shelter-building. Demonstrating its historical significance and enduring reliability can also enhance its appeal, making it a coveted item among collectors and survival enthusiasts alike.

A man filleting a fish with a fillet knife on a rock.


Fillet knives are designed with a long, flexible blade to cleanly separate meat from bones, particularly in fish, making them essential for anglers and coastal survivalists.

Selection Criteria: The key to a good fillet knife is a blade that combines flexibility with strength for precise cuts. Stainless steel is a must for its resistance to corrosion, especially in marine environments.

Look for a handle that provides a secure grip even when wet, and consider the length of the blade—longer blades between seven and nine inches are better for larger fish, while shorter blades offer more control. The thinness of the blade is also critical; it should allow for easy maneuvering.

Ideal Uses: Primarily used for preparing fish, making it an invaluable tool in coastal regions or for those relying on rivers and lakes for food.

Bartering Insight: In bartering scenarios, a fillet knife's value is specialized. It is not just a tool, but an essential part of processing game and fish, preserving resources and ensuring nothing goes to waste.

Highlight the knife’s ability to perform delicate tasks that other knives cannot, making it indispensable for anyone reliant on fishing for sustenance. In regions where fishing is a primary food source, this knife becomes a crucial trade item.


Combat knives are built for durability and versatility, often featuring a serrated segment for multi-purpose use.

Selection Criteria: A combat knife should be robust, with a blade thickness that supports not only cutting and slicing but also prying and digging. The material should be high-grade steel for edge retention and overall toughness.

Serrated edges can be useful for sawing through synthetic materials or ropes, while a pointed tip is essential for piercing. The handle must ensure a firm grip under all conditions, often made of synthetic materials that resist environmental degradation.

Ideal Uses: This knife is designed for self-defense, emergency situations, and as a robust utility tool in harsh conditions.

Bartering Insight: The combat knife's appeal in bartering comes from its dual-purpose design as both a tool and a defensive weapon. Its robust construction makes it a reliable companion in adverse environments. Stress its utility in survival kits for tackling a broad range of tasks—from setting up camp to emergency rescues.

This versatility makes it desirable, especially in uncertain times when security is paramount. In trading scenarios, demonstrating the combat knife's range of uses can significantly increase its value, making it a sought-after item among those preparing for unpredictable challenges.

A row of alcoholic drinks in various types of glass bottles.

Best Alcohols for Bartering When SHTF

Alcohol not only eases the hardships of survival scenarios but also serves practical and medical purposes, making it a versatile commodity in barter situations. Here’s an expanded view into each type:


High-proof spirits like Everclear and Bacardi 151 offer significant utility due to their high alcohol content.

Selection Criteria: When choosing high-proof spirits, the key factor is the alcohol by volume (ABV) content, which should be at least 75% to ensure efficacy in various uses, from disinfection to use as a solvent.

The purity of the spirit is also important, as impurities can affect its taste and safety for consumption. Opt for spirits that are clear and free from added flavors or colors, which can increase their use for making tinctures, medicinal extracts, and other preparations.

Uses: These spirits can be used to disinfect wounds, clean medical tools, act as a fuel source for alcohol stoves, and serve as a base for homemade herbal remedies.

Bartering Insight: The utility of high-proof spirits in a survival context cannot be overstated. They function not only as morale boosters, but as essential tools for medical hygiene and basic cooking. When bartering, highlight their role in sterilization and first aid, their use as an emergency fuel source, and their potential in creating extracts and tinctures, which can be crucial in natural medicine. This multifaceted utility makes high-proof spirits exceptionally valuable commodities in scenarios where traditional medical and cooking resources are limited.

Related Read: 23 Different Ways Alcohol Could Save Your Life in an Emergency


Single malt scotch is esteemed for its refined flavors and traditional distillation methods.

Selection Criteria: The selection of a single malt scotch should focus on its age, as older whiskies generally offer deeper flavors and complexity. The region of production also influences the flavor profile; for example, scotches from Islay are known for their peaty taste, while those from Speyside are often fruitier and milder.

The cask in which the scotch was aged also plays a significant role; sherry casks impart sweet notes, whereas bourbon casks give a sharper, often vanilla-tinged flavor.

Uses: Beyond its obvious role as a luxury consumable, single malt scotch can also be a valuable trade good in situations where luxury items are scarce.

Bartering Insight: In bartering, single malt scotch represents a touch of luxury and normalcy, making it a prized item among those who appreciate finer things. Its value in trade can be leveraged not just for other luxury items, but also for essential goods, serving as a medium of exchange where currency has lost its value.

Highlighting its rarity and the pleasure of its consumption can elevate its perceived worth, making it a powerful item in securing favorable trades or alliances in survival situations.


Bourbon whiskey is celebrated for its rich, full flavor derived from its unique distillation process and aging requirements.

Selection Criteria: When selecting bourbon for bartering, consider its mash bill; a higher percentage of corn will typically yield a sweeter taste, which may be more appealing in a barter situation.

The age of the bourbon is also crucial—older bourbons are generally smoother and more complex. Look for bourbons that have been aged in new charred oak barrels, which contribute to a deeper flavor profile with notes of vanilla, caramel, and spices.

Uses: Bourbon can be sipped for pleasure, used medicinally as a calmative or antiseptic, or incorporated into cooking to enhance flavors, especially in sauces and marinades.

Bartering Insight: Bourbon's widespread appeal makes it a versatile bartering item. It's particularly valued in North America, where it is culturally significant and widely enjoyed. In a barter economy, bourbon can serve as a social lubricant, facilitating community bonds and trade negotiations.

It's also a potent medicinal aid, useful for disinfecting wounds or soothing sore throats. When bartering, emphasize bourbon's dual roles as both a comfort item and a practical commodity, which can enhance its trade value significantly in a post-collapse marketplace.


Rum is known for its versatility and sweet undertones, making it popular in both culinary and social settings.

Selection Criteria: For bartering purposes, choose rum that has been aged, as it offers richer flavors and a smoother finish. The type of sugarcane used and the distillation process (pot still vs. column still) also affect the flavor and quality of the rum. Dark rums are generally more flavorful and can be more appealing in barter for their culinary uses, while white rums are valued for their mixability in beverages.

Uses: Rum is excellent for making preserves, flavoring foods, and creating homemade remedies and concoctions. Its higher sugar content also makes it useful as a base for fermentation projects.

Bartering Insight: Rum's appeal lies in its cultural significance and broad range of uses from the kitchen to the medicine cabinet. In tropical regions or island communities, rum is not only a staple beverage but also a part of the culinary heritage, enhancing its value in these areas. It can be bartered as a luxury item or a practical commodity, useful for both its enjoyable qualities and its practical applications in food preservation and medicinal uses.

When trading, focus on rum's role in enhancing the quality of life through flavor and its utility in home remedies and cooking, which can make it a sought-after item in a wide array of bartering situations.

Someone pouring a bottle of vodka into a small glass.


Vodka is appreciated for its purity and high alcohol content, which make it a staple in both households and medical kits.

Selection Criteria: When selecting vodka for bartering, opt for brands that are known for their filtration and distillation processes, as these determine the purity and smoothness of the alcohol. High-proof, neutral-flavored vodka is most versatile, especially if it can be used medically. The lack of intrinsic flavor makes it ideal for infusing with other ingredients to create custom flavors or medicinal tinctures.

Uses: Vodka is perfect for disinfection, cleaning, and as a base for herbal tinctures. Its culinary uses include making extracts like vanilla or citrus, and it can serve as a solvent in creating homemade perfumes or other scented products.

Bartering Insight: Vodka's neutrality and high alcohol content are its main selling points in a barter economy. It is immensely valuable for its medicinal properties, particularly in sterilizing wounds and medical tools, making it essential in first aid kits.

Additionally, its role as a household cleaner and disinfectant should be emphasized, especially in times when hygiene is paramount to survival. Vodka can also be used in social contexts to create various infused spirits, appealing to a broad audience.

In bartering, highlight its multifunctional use across health, culinary, and social domains, enhancing its desirability as a versatile, indispensable commodity.


Absinthe is distinctive for its herbal complexity and high proof, often associated with historical allure and a touch of mystique.

Selection Criteria: Select absinthe that adheres to traditional recipes, which include a high concentration of wormwood, anise, and fennel. The presence of thujone, a compound found in wormwood, is what traditionally distinguishes absinthe and contributes to its unique effects. The quality of the distillation and the botanicals used significantly impacts the flavor and the overall experience of the absinthe.

Uses: Absinthe can be enjoyed in a ritualistic manner with water and sugar, used as a flavor enhancer in cooking, or employed in small amounts as a digestive aid.

Bartering Insight: Absinthe’s uniqueness and the ritual associated with its consumption can make it a highly desirable item in a barter situation, especially among connoisseurs or those intrigued by its bohemian reputation. Its medicinal properties as a digestive aid and its use in traditional European medicine can also be highlighted.

In bartering, emphasize its cultural and historical significance, its unique flavor profile, and its potential health benefits, making it not just a drink but a part of a sophisticated lifestyle. This can significantly boost its value in a barter economy, appealing to both the cultured and the curious.


Port wine is richly flavored and fortified, making it both a luxurious beverage and a versatile culinary ingredient.

Selection Criteria: When selecting port wine for bartering, consider the style. Tawny ports offer nutty flavors and are great for sipping or cooking, while Ruby ports are fruitier and richer, making them ideal for desserts and richer dishes.

Vintage ports are the highest quality and are highly valued for their complexity and maturation potential. Look for ports that have been aged in the bottle, as these will have more depth and character.

Uses: Port can be savored on its own as a dessert wine, used to enrich sauces and stews, or employed in the preservation of fruits and sweets.

Bartering Insight: The luxury and indulgence associated with port wine make it a sought-after commodity in times of scarcity. It can serve as a morale booster, a symbol of celebration, or a sophisticated addition to any meal. In colder climates, its warming properties and rich flavors make it particularly valuable.

When bartering, emphasize port's versatility in cooking and its status as a luxury item, which can make it a highly desirable commodity for enhancing quality of life and providing comfort during tough times. Its ability to be stored for long periods also enhances its value, making it a good investment for future trading.

Worth the Trade

Each knife and type of alcohol listed here is ideal for post-collapse survival, chosen for both personal use and bartering value. Take these tips to heart; they'll get you everything you need to stay safe and comfortable.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published