Once-upon-a-time, the 10′ pole was the adventure’s American Express card – you never left home without it. But nowadays you never see one. The option has gone completely in 4e, which makes sense as I can’t remember anyone ever using one since 1st Ed AD&D.
What has changed about the hobby’s gameplay that has rendered this once vital piece of equipment redundant?
I suspect it something to do the fall in the number traps. Once, these were a major hazard in every adventure and the 10′ pole was a useful piece of equipment for locating or disarming them. Possibly a great sense of realism in the game has also played a part. The idea of a warrior doing battle with a 10′ pole strapped to their back seems somehow ridiculous nowadays.