“Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.”
– Someone that needed something and didn’t have it.
This is a list of items that you may find in a tech’s backpack or tool bag. Depending on what you work on, you may not need more than half the items!
These items are the critical main items that may be a standard part of your kit.
- Recommended: GORUCK GR1 – Pick your size: 21L or 26L (I use 21L). Put your contact info on it! Get pouches to keep it organized.
- Fluke has one that looks neat.
- Klein Tools makes Tech Bags and Backpacks
- Laptop – A tablet with dongles will get annoying real quick, also avoid laptops with ethernet ports that “fold out.”
- Recommended: Lenovo T Series – Get a bigger battery (if available) and a dock for your desk!!
- Network Testing Kit – I recommend a large kit with wiremappers and a case.
- Tone Generator and Probe – Get a nice one! – Even if your tester kit has one.
- Camera – Get a decent one with accessories! – This camera is dedicated to taking pictures of your installations/closets/racks/facilities! Be sure to have an approval letter from your organization!!
- USB-Serial Adapter – Tripp-Lite Keyspan – The really cheap ones tend to fail at the worst times.
- Fiber Optic Locator – Get one with a pouch! – Higher the mW the better! Get THIS also.
- Inventory – Always keep an inventory listing in your kit to ensure items don’t “grow legs.” Keep it laminated.
Cables and Connectors
These are non-consumables – meaning you won’t deploy/install these at a customer site.
- Null Modem Serial RS232 Cable (DB9 F/F) – Tripp-Lite makes nice ones
- Cisco Console Cable – Get a few. – Optionally get one with USB/FTDI built in.
- Crossover Adapter – They come in cool colors. – Ya never know…
- Rollover Adapter – Get one. – Ya never know…
- RJ45 (8P8C) Loopback – Buy one. – Or make one.
- Fiber Optic Loopback – Buy one. – Or make one if you have to tools…
- CAT6/7 RJ45 (8P8C) Patch Cables – Get nice ones or odd colored ones. – These are the cables that YOU use personally and don’t install at a site.
- C14 to 5-15R Power Adapter – 1ft is fine. – For when you’re in that unfortunate situaton.
- Cell Phone charger – Or just the usb cable.
- Crimping Tool – Platinum Tools – These have been the best I’ve used.
- Wiring Tools – Sometimes you can find these as a kit with belt pouch.
- Double-Faced Mallet – For when things need convincing, but you don’t want to damage them.
- Multi-Tool – Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier – Spring-loaded!
- All-in-One Screwdriver – Klein Screwdriver
- Also a precision one – Klein Precision Screwdriver
- Precision Screwdriver Set – iFixit – Simple 7 piece or 25+ piece, depending on what you think you’d use.
- Lock Picking Set – Find one with a pouch!
- Flashlight – Streamlight – LED!
- Telescoping magnet wand
- Telescoping hook
- Paperclips – Just a few for popping out CDs or pushing reset buttons…
- Media Delivery Method
- USB Drive (for storage) – Store files/tools/reference docs and I recommend PortableApps.com.
- Bootable OS/applications/images
- A few blank Recordable DVDs – Get a bunch, but only keep a few on hand to leave files with clients, but try to avoid physical media. End the Sneakernet.
- SecureCRT – Not Free. Tabs, scripting, and built-in TFTP server. A truly wise investment.
- Do NOT use PuTTY. Why? Because I said so. Don’t be a plebeian.
- VS Code – For a pleasurable code editing experience. Stop using Windows built-in Notepad.
- GNS3 – Study or test network configurations before implementing them. EVE-NG is another option, but GNS3 is more user-friendly, 100% free, open source, and the community support is huge.
- iPerf – Measure bandwidth.
- Cygwin – Linux tools on Windows.
- mturoute – Measure MTU at each hop… omg so kewl!
- Nmap and Zenmap – Discover and audit your network…
- Wireshark – Sniff it out.
- TCPView – A fancy “netstat” – Check port use and see what the heck is going on.
- 7zip – Zip it up.
- f.lux – Take some strain off your eyes.
- WinSCP – FTP/SFTP/WebDAV/SCP client… Also see SecureFX.
- Solarwinds SFTP/SCP Server – Free and secure file transfer from a respectable source.
- Tftpd32 – DHCP/TFTP/DNS/SNTP/Syslog server.
- HFS – HTTP File Server – Instant HTTP File server…
- SFK- Swiss File Knife – Portable small file with HTTP and FTP servers, zip functions, and MANY other features…
- Angry IP Scanner – Scan IPs like a madman. It may trigger some anti-virus programs and security systems.
- Visio – Be careful to not let this application consume your life. – Get schooled. – Get stencils and templates.
- VLC – Plays everything…
- WiFi Analysis – WiFi Analyzer (Free) OR Last free verison of inSSIDer
- PicPick – Portable app with image tools to capture screenshots, pick colors, measure pixels, and more.
- Recuva – Recover files. There’s a free version that works well!
- PortableApps– 400+ portable applications that can be mass-updated with ease.
- Finally, LaunchPad of course. 😉
These are items you may need to restock that may be deployed/installed locally or at a customer site. Some links here are Amazon for reference/research, but definitely check out Monoprice.com
- Cat6a Patch Cables – Get various sizes!
- Cat6a Cable Connectors – The EZ ones are cool!
- Fiber Patch Cables – Protect them during transport!
- Extra SFPs – Organize them in some way.
- RJ45 (8P8C) Couplers – Get a bunch of em!
- Fiber Optic Couplers – Get some ST, SC, and LC! – Remember that these can vary between not only ST/SC/LC, but also multimode ( and singlemode!
- Velcro (a.k.a hook and loop strap) – 8in x 1/4in is good.
- Zip Ties (a.k.a. nylon tie wrap) – Get an assortment. DO NOT USE FOR CABLE MANAGEMENT – use velcro. This *should* be common sense, but it is also per BICSI ITSIMM. Use zip ties only for somewhat permanent applications and NOT FOR CABLES. See waxed lacing tape below.
- Waxed Lacing Cord/Twine – – For those long runs of cable management.
- Electrical Tape – M3 is best!
- Racking Screws – Keep a few different types on-hand.
- Sharpies/Pencils/Pens – Get a few of each.
- Small Notebook – For notes.
- Extra Batteries – Extras for anything you use that has replacable batteries.
- Clear Packing Tape – Use to create or protect labels/stickers.
- Isopropyl Alcohol Pads – Get a box of em. – Keep a few in your backpack!
- Rack/Cabinet/Closet Keys – NEVER leave without them. – Get a flashy keychain to easily visually identify them, and label them appropriately (with contact info if lost/found). Use a template to make things easy.
- Small Tool Bag – Organize to prevent having a soup sandwich in your bag!
- Cheat Sheets – Reference items that are relevant to your job, and often forgotten. Basically something you may need to google, with Google being unavailable!
- Small Tripod Chair – For those extended jobs at random locations.
- Microfiber Screen Cleaning Cloth
- Extra Laptop Power Supply – One in the bag, one at the desk!
- Cellular Hotspot – Can be convenient if you work on secure networks and need commercial internet.
- Network Tap – You could use a hub but could experience collisions.
- CAC Reader
- Small VoIP Phone – Cisco SPA301 – or a small gateway and analog phone.
- Screw Extractor Pliars
- Electric Air Duster
- Breaker Finder and Electrical Outlet Tester – Get them as a pair/kit.
- LED Headlamp
- Paintbrush – Dust your old equipment! Get a small/medium one.
- Business Cards – Add a QR code.
- Laptop Tripod Stand – The tall type. – How convenient!!
- (Telecom) Butt Set – At least get one of the small $15 ones. – They work well!
- (Telecom) Wire Wrap Tool – 22-24 gauge – Jonard is best, but cheaper ones are ok!
- (Telecom) Can Wrench Tool
- (Wireless) WiFi Access Point – The Ubiquiti PicoStation is popular.
- (Wireless) Powerful External WiFi Adapter – Higher the mW the better! – Get a variety of antennas (unidirectional and directional).
- Water Bottle – Klean Kanteen – Stainless steel.
- Water Bottle Holder – Attach to molle on your GR1
- CLIF Bars
- Small Coin/Money Bag – For vending machines!
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste – Travel size. – Freshen up after you’ve worked 12 hrs with no sign of going home.
Additional Items (Keep on-hand in case they are needed)
- First Aid Kit – Get a good one. Keep it in plain sight (wall mounted) and ensure everyone knows where it is.
- Digital Multi-Meter – Fluke is nice, but any will do!
- Label Maker – Label equipment! – But more importantly label your ports in the device OS!
- Tool Set – General tools that you’ll eventually need.
- Fiber Optic Tool Kit
- Cordless Drill – Makita
- Drill Bits- DeWalt
- Screw Extractor Bits – Alden Grabits
- Engraver – Dremel brand is good. – Mark your stuff! Consider using templates to keep it neat.
- Duct Tape – Get a funky color – Mark things as yours with it (tools, etc.)!
- Soldering Iron w/station – Weller makes good ones. – Butane ones can be nice when on the go!
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Get enough for multiple employees.
- Ear Defenders – Save your ears. – Use when engraving or in a mechanical room (or a loud server room). Also have some disposables on hand.
- Respirator – 3M N95
- Work Gloves – Save your paws.
- Reflective Vest – Save your life. – For working at night or looking official.
- Safety Goggles – Save your eyes. Get some good ones.
- Hard Hat w/ Light – Retain your consciousness. You never know…
- Flashlight – Snag a chargeable one.
- Hardman Double-Bubble Epoxy – Be careful with this stuff!
- Label/Sticker Remover – A metal one. – Good for classification label removal.
- PSU Tester
- Anti-Static Wrist Strap
- Anti-Static Mat
- Wooden Cane – Keep this with other safety equipment near high-voltage areas to pull/push someone away from being shocked
- Key Cabinet with Combination Lock – Keep an accurate inventory and check daily.
- Shelving Storage Units
- Locking Storage Cabinet
- Tool Box Liner – Mark your tool locations for quick inventory
- Hardware Cabinet Organizer with Drawers
- Stacking Storage Bins
(CAUTION: DO NOT USE) EtherKiller – Make one. – For legacy equipment that needs to be put to rest, a.k.a. “upgraded upon failure”.