12 Excellent Skills to Barter with Post-SHTF

If there’s one thing that’s going to worth more than gold and silver post-SHTF, it’s having skills. Having the right ones can be of tremendous help not just directly, for your family, but also indirectly, to barter with.

Bartering your skills is by far the best way to keep your stockpile intact as there’s nothing worse than having to sacrifice your last cans of tuna to get medication.

Doing something in exchange for those antibiotics requires nothing more than your time and you being good at what you do. Plus, there’s no risk of drawing attention to your stockpile (the biggest risk in post-disaster bartering; as you probably know, when you barter, you risk being followed home if someone things you’ve got more than you’re showing).

Now, if you’re not familiar with what bartering is, I suggest you check out an article I wrote a while ago right here. But in this piece I’d like to focus solely on the skills that I think will be the most sought after once Doomsday arrives.

#1. Gardening skillsgarden

I know gardening is not as exciting as, say… guns but once the dust settles, you’re gonna be using your hoe a lot more than your AR-15. People are going to need to know what to plant, when to plant it, how to use the tools and so on. And let’s not even get into all the disease that could pose serious threats to their crops.

Last but not least, you can borrow not just your knowledge but also your muscle and help out.

Carpentry_hand_tools#2. Carpentry and woodworking skills

With all the shops closed, people are going to turn to the one material that’s free, abundant and helps build homes: wood. Enough said.

#3. Splitting wood

It’s not that people will be incapable to do it themselves but consider the fact that some wives and children will most likely lose their fathers and husbands in the disaster. You could lend a helping hand by simply asking if they need help.

soap making#4. Making homemade soap and detergent

Personal hygiene is often overlooked in our prepping plans. People are going to miss having water at their discretion as well as soap, shampoo and other products that now don’t cost that much. Their hand sanitizers aren’t going to last too long so a viable long-term solution is needed.

There are plenty of recipes for homemade soap and detergent, you can look them up online. The trick, as you probably guessed, is to practice beforehand and not wait for an SHTF scenario.

#5. Butchering an animal

Most men have no idea how to do this. Wouldn’t you rather teach them rather than letting them torture the poor animal? Maybe you can get your share from it at the end…

chop_tree#6. Cutting trees

While cutting trees may be illegal now, it’s going to be mandatory post-collapse. You’re going to need it for firewood, house repairs, building chicken coops and much more.

#7. Making a greenhouse

There’s no better way to take gardening to the next level than to build a greenhouse. The bigger the better, of course. Pretty soon, your neighbors and even strangers are going to line up for you to build them similar ones as well.

If you practice now, you’re going to be known as the greenhouse expert, get more people interested in your skill and getting more supplies in return.

#8. Making a smokehouse

People are going to be looking at various ways to store food in a grid-down situation. Smoking is one of them, but building a smokehouse is not trivial. If you learn to do it for yourself, you can make one for yourself right now. Heck, you can start making them right now if you can find the customers.

Oh, did I mention smoked meat tastes amazing?

#9. Plumbing

When pipes get clogged, that household is in trouble. Practice this skill as it’s not really all that complicated… you just need the right tools.

#10. Working with clay

Logic dictates there’s going to be a shortage of plates, pots, mugs and other recipients. Learning to make them yourself from clay could allow you to supply hundreds of families.

well#11. Digging a well

The fact that clean water is going to be a top priority makes me wonder why I didn’t put this skill higher up on the list. Nevertheless, digging your own well is not trivial so you should ask for an expert to show you how it’s done.

#12. Teaching (in general)

Teaching skills are going to be unbelievably useful. The human race is hungry for information, which, right now we have plenty of. But when there won’t be any computers, no more Kindles and no more educational system, someone is going to have to teach children English, math, geography and, of course, survival. Make sure you stash some printed manuals on the topics you’re most familiar with to assist you in your lessons.

Stay safe,

Dan F. Sullivan


Bugging Out or Bugging In, What’s Best for You?

If you read what’s on some websites today, it seems like everyone is suggesting bugging out at the first sign of any problem. There’s a lot of talk about underground bunkers, wilderness survival techniques and bug out bags. While all of that is good, bugging out, just because the situation is bad, may not always be the best possible solution.
We all have to realize that people who write for these websites all have their own ideas of the best way to survive, myself included. While there are lots of survival strategies and skills that are held in common, there are also many different ways to approach any given survival situation. The only way we can know which are the best is to survive through it.

The survival shelter in the woods is a common dream of many preppers. It resonates with that more basic and primitive part of us that wants to throw off all the trappings of modern society and return to a simpler life, more in touch with nature. Even so, having that desire doesn’t mean that we can do it.

Where are You Going to Bug Out To?

cabin If you’re one of those who actually has a cabin in the woods, then bugging out at the first sign of trouble makes a lot of sense. Anyone with such a location would be safer there, away from people and in a location that they had prepared and stocked for survival. If things worked out that the crisis passed quickly, the trip would always be chalked up to a practice run.

But, that doesn’t apply to most of us. Since most of us don’t have that cabin in the woods, bugging out means going to live in the wild. That’s a lot harder than it seems. While it would be possible to build some sort of long-term shelter and find most of the resources needed to survive, the biggest problem would be coming up with enough food to eat in order to make it through the winter.

Living off the land isn’t what most people think it is. Back in the pioneering days of our history, it was much easier to live off the land. Not only was game more plentiful but also berries and other foods growing in the wild. Today, much of the land which grew those wild foodstuffs has been converted to farms, reducing their availability. Since our population is much higher than it was, with more people trying to live off the land, what is available won’t be enough to keep everyone alive.

Why You Should Plan on Bugging In

While bugging out gets you away from people and the danger associated with them, it does have a lot of challenges and difficulties associated with it. For that reason, it’s actually better for most people to plan on bugging in, rather than planning on bugging out.
Bugging in has several distinct advantages over bugging out. First and foremost is having your home to use as a shelter. Unless something has happened to destroy your home, being able to stay in it makes survival much easier, both physically and emotionally.

homeNot only do you have your home, but you also have everything in your home. That means you’ll have all your equipment, tools, supplies and even day-to-day objects that you are accustomed to using. While you might be able to do without many of those if you needed to, having them available will mean that you don’t have to improvise to do things that you don’t have.

By the time an event would happen that may require a bug out, you will probably have invested a lot of time and effort into making your home a better survival retreat. Installing alternative power, planting a vegetable garden, raising chickens and building a stockpile are all things that shouldn’t be thrown away lightly. If you are forced to abandon your home and ever get the opportunity to return, chances are that all of that will be gone.

Familiarity with your home will also make it more defensible. When you read articles and reports about home defense, you will naturally apply what you are reading to your home, thinking about how you will apply those lessons in your home. Leaving your home also means leaving behind those plans and becoming more vulnerable.

Always Keep Plan B Available

plan bWhile I believe that bugging in is a better option for most people, I don’t believe that totally curtails the idea of bugging out. There may come a time when you can’t stay in your home any longer. If that happens, then you need to have a bug out plan ready to go.

Probably the biggest reason for needing to bug out would be for your home to come under attack. If you have your home defenses properly prepared and your family is trained in the use of their firearms, you’ll probably survive that first attack, with nothing more than a scratch. But, if one serious attach comes against your home, you can pretty much count on other attacks coming too. The question comes down to, how many attacks can you survive?

There is no way that I can answer that question for you, as I can’t see your defensive plan and I don’t know who you have available as defenders. If you have a good survival team put together at your home, you can probably survive several attacks, maybe even enough to get the attackers to call it quits. But if it’s just your family, that’s probably not the case.

If you aren’t sure that you can survive the next attack (and keep in mind that each attack will grow in size), then it’s time to leave. Pack up everything you can and get out of there, before it’s too late. You want to be out before your enemies have an idea of what you’re up to.

That’s why you need to have a good bug out plan ready, no matter what. You should also have some supplies stockpiled in a remote location, in case you are forced to abandon your home quickly enough that you can’t get to all your supplies. You have no way of knowing what’s going to happen, so you need to be ready for everything.

Dave is a 52 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 30 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he’s grey-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn’t dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. You can learn more about Dave on his site,

Bug Out Supplies

Six Common Things To Leave Out Of Your Go Bag

There are about a million blog posts out there on what to put in your Go Bag, and that’s great. Let’s talk about things not to pack in your get out of dodge bag:

Glass Jar1. Glass/Fragile items – Anything that is in a glass container needs t
o be transferred to something more suited for rough travel. Plastic or Lexan is a better alternative for portable liquid storage.
Sure you want some of Grandma’s jam on the go, but the mason jar rattling around in your bag is a no go.

Flammable liquid2. Flammable Fluids – Speaking of liquids, if you are carrying any liquid fuel, find a way to pack that on the outside of your bag. If you have it inside and the container it is in cracks or leaks, you now have a bag soaked with fuel and anything inside, especially food, will be unusable. Water bottle carriers, or ammo dump pouches work great with cylinder type fuel containers.

3. Food – Wait, that should be “food that is not suited for long term storage”. Canned,dried and packaged camping/trail foods are the way to go here. Foods that expire quickly or damage easily have no place in your bag.

4. Huge/Heavy Items – There seems to be a tendency to pack everything and the kitchen sink in a bug out bag. There is always that guy who is trying to cram a family tent, a tailgating sized grill …do not try and carry more than 25% of your body weight, so if you are 200 pounds, avoid carrying a pack that weighs over 50 pounds. It may not seem like a lot, but put 50 pounds on your back and carry it all day is not something you want to do for days on end. Keep gear light and durable. You will need to be able to move, not drag behind and keep the rest of your group waiting for you to catch up. The disaster you are trying to move away from can and will spread given time.

Defibrillator5. Unfamiliar Medical Equipment and Medicine – Not everyone is a trained medic, so do not try and act like one by loading up your gear with medical equipment you are not trained to use properly. The same goes for meds, getting the dosage wrong can be fatal in a situation when emergency medical services are going to be strained and a response unit could be hours if not days from coming to assist you. Unless someone in your bug out group is properly trained, do not be tempted to do any medical procedures outside of common first aid. Take some Red Cross classes, get certified in basic first aid and CPR. If you the the time, get EMT trained. Just because you watched MASH and ER a few times doesn’t count.

M16 breakdown6. Unfamiliar/Illegal Possession Weapons – Like the unfamiliar medical equipment, do not carry weapons (firearms, edged weapons) that: A. You do not know how to use or care for properly and B. Are not allowed in your state to possess. What you are allowed/permitted by law to carry or have packed on your person or in your vehicle will vary by state. Check your local laws before putting your bug out plan together. At some point the crisis you are in will be over and the law will be restored to your area. Make sure you don’t survive the situation only to be arrested for what you are carrying. If you state allows it, apply for a firearms permit and take a carry class. And make sure you know how to use and care for that firearm properly.



GPS Navigation: Tips & Tricks before Heading Out

Handheld GPS are not only fun to use, but they can get you out of a bind. Make sure you know how to use it. Here are a few things to make sure your GPS is good to go whenever you need it:

  1. Update, update, update! – About once every few months, fire it up and update your maps if your make and model allow for it. This way you will always be able to use the most accurate map data.
  2. Power – Get a few extra sets of batteries for your GPS and put them into a waterproof carrier. If you are trying to keep that bag light, put them in a zip lock freezer bag.
  3. Test Run – Fire the GPS up and go and find a nearby Geocache. This will ensure you and your device are both ready to go. Nothing is worse than when you are in a position you actually need your GPS to get you out of a bad situation and can’t figure out how to use it!
  4. Teach – Once you have got the basic functionality down, instruct other members of your party (family members, friends or anyone else you are heading out with) how to use the GPS. If something happens to you, the rest of the party will be able to take over navigating.
  5. Heads Up! – I have seen many folks out in the woods trying to navigate with their device, heads down, and ignoring the terrain around them, to end up tripping over a downed branch or that gigantic bolder that just appeared out of nowhere! Heads up, and look at the map display with your device up in front of your face, not down by your hips!
  6. Back Up – Electronics fail, so get paper maps of your location(s), a compass, pencils, sharpener, and learn how to use them. Many counties in the USA offer Map Reading/Land Nav classes. Find one, take one, and be ready. Also check out our article on navigating with the sun.

So be familiar with your GPS device, teach others how to use it, use it safely and have a backup!

Need a new GPS? I recommend the Garmin 62S, get the version with the digital compass and altimeter built-in. Garmin, Magellan, and Bushnell are all recommended brands.

Glow Sticks, Are They Useful?

During any crisis situations, whether you are out in the wild or at your own home, having a reliable source of lighting is important. For the last three decades, people have effectively used glow sticks in almost every situations.

Advantage: No power source needed
Unlike a flashlight, a glow stick does not need a battery to operate. As soon as the glow stick is activated, it will provide lighting for up 12 hours or more. They are also water proof and can be used in wet environments.

Advantage: Safe
Glow sticks are a very safe lighting source. You do not have to worry about accidently starting a fire. There is also no risk of being electrocuted. Even children are able to safely use glow sticks.

Advantage: Lightweight
Glow sticks are very lightweight, which means that several of them can be easily transported in a backpack. Glow sticks also take up very little space.

Advantage: Inexpensive
Even military-grade glow sticks are very inexpensive. Although glow sticks can be purchased individually, the best approach is to buy in bulk. They can be stored in a variety of places including the trunk of a car and a home closet.

Disadvantage: Low light
Although glow sticks are able to illuminate the surrounding area, they do not deliver a bright light. A rescue plane or boat may not be able to see the light of a glow stick from a long distance away. They generally do not give enough light to read with.

Disadvantage: Fragile
Although some glow sticks are engineered to be relatively robust, their durability fails in comparison to a candle or flashlight. The vial can easily become damaged when handled aggressively, this commonly happens if they are in your hiking bag that gets thrown around a lot.

Disadvantage: Expire
To the surprise of many, glow sticks expire. Most glow sticks are good for about 5 years. They must be replaced on a schedule if you want to depend on them.

So are glow sticks useful? It’s up for you to decide. They have uses, but with the limitation they are not always the best choice. I do love glow sticks, I think they are fun. I have them in my house, car, ditch bags, and my hiking bag. I personally use the Cyalume 6” Green. A single one will illuminate my entire living room enough to move around or illuminate the ground directly below your fee if you are walking outside.

Toilet Paper Roll

Toilet Paper after the Apocalypse

Would you miss wiping? It is something we all have become accustomed too. Most preppers make sure to stock up on enough food, water, medical supplies, and even weapons, but they often forget the importance of toilet paper.

If you have ever been camping, you know how much of a drag it is to ‘use whatever you can find.’ So not only is toilet paper something you’ll really miss, but if nothing bad ever happens, sooner or later you’ll use it all up anyway. So it’s no real expense if you’ve got the storage space…so buy some and stock up.

Okay, but let’s say your supply still runs out, beside the leaf. What could you use?

The best option (in my opinion) is to use small sheets of cloth that you then place in a closed pot. These could then be washed (separate from your clothes!) and place in boiling water for sanitation. Similar to the ‘old-fashion’ cloth diaper concept.

Corn husks were used in early American history and sound pretty reasonable. The ancient Japanese would use thin wood stick like a scraper.  Lastly a sponge tethered to a stick was used in ancient Rome.

Featured Image by Esko Kurvineh/Flickr