Never used them before this year. Just started using them since I need them for a tarp tent I bought. Saves on weight and read that for packing out elk they are a life saver. Haven't done that yet. They really help on steep stuff for balance. Also read they take a lot of weight off your knees and feet. I have a really bad knee that had every ligament torn playing basketball so anything to take stress off my knees always seems like a good idea.