Are you a good negotiator? Tips for how to barter after SHTF
By Zoey Sky // Jul 15, 2019

When prepping for a long-term SHTF scenario, you need to learn various survival skills, like firestarting, home gardening, and hunting. However, some preppers tend to forget a useful survival skill: bartering. (h/t to


SHTF bartering basics

Any prepper worth their salt already has a survival stockpile secured. But supplies are finite and knowing how to barter can help you secure important items that you may run out of when disaster strikes.

Follow these tips to learn how to barter with your fellow preppers.

  • Familiarize yourself with the value of critical bartering items, such as batteries, fuel, hand tools, radios, and water purification supplies.
  • Maintain a non-threatening appearance without looking too untrustworthy or unkempt.
  • Never give away personal information about yourself or your family.
  • Greet your fellow preppers in a friendly manner and compliment their wares.
  • Look interested, but don't be too eager when you find something you need to keep the exchange rates low. To drive prices lower, you may need to pretend to walk away. Use this tactic cautiously because it can still backfire.
  • Don't reveal all the items that you're willing to trade. Hold back what you think the other party is really interested in.
  • Start haggling for at least 50 percent of the listed price if you're not sure about the value of the item you have your eye on. Be polite when discussing minor problems with a particular item. You want to get a lower price, but don't insult your fellow prepper.
  • Once you finalize a deal, offer them a freebie. This can help you build a relationship, and they may return the favor during a future exchange of goods or services. (Related: Skills assessment: What you really need to know in case SHTF.)

Security tips when bartering at a marketplace

Check the perimeter of the market before entering it to look for anyone who is monitoring the area or is preparing for an ambush.

Once you arrive at the marketplace, do a quick walkthrough, and scan the area for any signs of trouble before start trading.

Determine an emergency signal (air horn, whistle, etc.) and meet-up point if things go south while attempting to barter.

When meeting a trader, make sure you are accompanied by at least two or more people. This ensures that someone can keep an eye on your car and manage perimeter security while the second person manages inner security for the one doing the trading. Be discreet about your backup.

As you're leaving the market, take an indirect route home. Make sure you're not being followed before you return to your house or hideout.

Security tips when bartering in a remote place

Unless you trust the other party 100 percent, trade on neutral ground. If you both agree to trade in a remote area, such as an elevated, open hillside, keep an eye on the route of approach.

Ideally, you should be able to observe the other party approach the designated meeting area. Make sure you have cover, like large rocks or trees, at least 100 to 200 yards away from the meeting location.

You should have at least three or more trusted people in your group. Two long-distance shooters should arrive about two hours before the trade so they can create a hideout as far back as they can accurately make a headshot while also accounting for factors like terrain and weather.

Tell your friends to keep a low profile. Hopefully, you won't need back-up from the long-distance shooters in your group as you barter for supplies.

When SHTF, there are no limits to the items you can trade for as long as you are fair to the other party. You may need to trade with them again in the future.

After the trade has concluded, instruct one person to take care of rear security as you exit the location. Don't take the direct route home, in case you're being followed.

Keep your calm and be alert when bartering so you can acquire items that you may need during a long-term disaster scenario.

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