So before I jump into this, let's get the definition correct here. Knowing there are deflected meanings to words these days, I am not referring to people or a person as a "tool" ( The Urban Dictionary has it this way... A guy with a hugely over-inflated ego, who in an attempt to get un-due attention for himself, will act like a jackass, because, in his deluded state, he will think it's going to make him look cool, or make others want to be like him. The person may even insincerely apologize later on, but only in an attempt to get more attention, or to excuse his blatantly intentional, and unrepentantly tool-ish behavior).
What I am referring to as a tool is really a piece of equipment... a device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function. This would then mean carabiners, pulleys, rope, ascenders, rope grabs etc... Thus, gear or rope rescue and rigging equipment are used to extend the ability of an individual to modify features of the surrounding environment.
I want to put my logic out there for all to see. I could be wrong, but obviously I don't think so. Tools or gear, without experience (wisdom, understanding and knowledge) will lead to failure. This would be hard to refute.
So a man, as he was passing a store front window during a walk, noticed a contest where the winner would take home the Ultimate Tool Shop (including the cabinets). He thought to himself..."if I had all those tools, I could build anything". Well, the problem with his logic (as he later reported) is that the tools don't build anything themselves. The same could be said about gym equipment (they don't make you fit) or kitchen tools (they don't make the food). The tools are inanimate objects. They need a function and purpose to exist and unless a specific person has a job, function and purpose, those tools will simply sit there.
Some would say you need both and can't have one without the other. Well, I'm not sure about that. As an example, we've got a ton of mechanical advantage videos and content (both at Rescue Response Gear and over at the Rigging Lab Academy site) and most of these are about building systems and using gear (tools), so it might seem that knowledge (training?) might be more important than gear. Then again, Rescue Response Gear has been enlightening the rope rescue and rigging community on gear use for well over 30 years and it might seem odd for a gear company to speak more about "how" than about "what".
So what is my personal stance on this question? I think it is the wrong question to be asking. It terms of equipment or tools... it is about the knowledge of the tool that matters. In terms of knowledge, it is about understanding the framework of the system and why it is being built. The proper gear or tool should make any job easier and with more precision, but conversely, someone with an understanding and knowledge "of" gear and tools can actually change the course of any project because of what a tool or piece can do.
Many of you know that Rescue Response Gear and Rigging Lab Academy are two sides of one coin. Both under the Red Ibex Solutions company, the decision was made a few years ago to actually answer the question at hand. We combined the two independant forces into one function... Our purpose is change the rigging industry by "turning your talents into strengths". Riggers and rescuers need gear (tools) and they need functionality of knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Rescue Response Gear handles one side of the coin and Rigging Lab Academy handles the other... Together we have an exchange of currency when the two become one solution... whether it be you and or you and your team. When you are talking with one, you're talking with the other.
Our goal is to get you to the top of your profession and how ever we can make that happen for you, we'll do our best to make it work.
Peace on your Days