Five must-have tools on stage or on set

Dec 24, 2015

Some of our younger crew members occasionally ask what tools they should bring to a show or shoot. While it depends on your role and the project itself, these are five items I’ve found indispensable over the years.


The ubiquitous Leatherman. I carry an older Leatherman Wave, which I love, and it’s a bit sentimental to me as my late grandfather gave it to me. I’ve seen a lot of improvements on the design recently, but whichever model or brand you choose, a multitool should be with you at all times. At the bare minimum it should include:

  • phillips head screwdriver
  • large flat head screwdriver
  • small flat head screwdriver
  • sharp blade
  • pliers


This might be my absolute most essential tool. No matter what the show is or when it is – even in bright day light – I almos always end up needing a flashlight. My absolute favorite is the Surefire E2L AA Outdoorsman. Spendy, yes, but these things are practically indestructible, bright as hell, and they have a two levels of brightness so you can have a dim light if you’re sticking your head in the back of a road case and a bright light if you’re trying to hail FOH from backstage.


I like to have a knife as well as a multitool. I use the knife more often than anything in a multitool, and it’s great to have very fast access to a blade if both hands aren’t free (like you’re holding a heavy projector in your left hand while balancing on a scissor lift).

Right now I’m using the Gerber 22-41613 Ripstop I, which is nice but a little small and not super fast opening. But very durable and holds its edge. My other favorites are:

What’s your favorite?


You will be a hero with a fast, high-capacity USB3 stick.

I carry a 64gb version on a lanyard with me at most shows, and almost every time I find a use for it.

Even if it’s not exactly in your job description, these are a lifeline in all sorts of situations.


Kind of a no-brainer, but always in my right pocket:

  • (1) Black pen – I like the G2 gel pens you can get in a value-pack from Costco
  • (1) Colored pen, like blue or red
  • (1) Black sharpie

And recently I used the silver metallic sharpie, also great when you only have black gaff tape available and need to make some labels. We have some custom-printed Punch Drunk notepads, I always keep one of these on hand as well.

Honorable Mentions

Kind of a no-brainer, but always in my right pocket:

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