First, let’s acknowledge that hiking poles have significant benefits in reducing stress on knees when hiking downhill, are excellent for stability, and properly used can take some of the weight off your feet. They also have many other uses: poles for some ultralight tents or for tarps, propping up packs, and setting or retrieving bear bags. No argument there.

But I’ve got to wonder: at least to some extent, the weight and stability issues they address are created by pack weight. The pack changes your center of gravity, for example. So, if you reduce the weight and bulk of the pack, do you eventually reach a point where those issues vanish, for all practical purposes? If so, where is that point?

I ask because I’ve significantly reduced my pack weight this year, from about 15 pounds to less than 10 (before food and water.) That means that, for a summer weekend, I’m carrying a pack that weighs 13 or 14 pounds. I’m wondering if I really need hiking poles at that weight, and wanted to see if there was a threshold below which all of you might decide not to take your poles. (And yes, I know the best way to decide is to hike without them once and see if I miss them. I’ll do that - but since the Ohio skies are gracing me with the second consecutive day of rain and cold, with more to come tomorrow, I got bored and thought I’d just put the question out there.)