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The basket of the ski pole is located on the bottom of the shaft, a few inches above the tip. This plastic device prevents the poles from sinking too deeply into the snow. Powder skiers often use a bigger type of basket for those coveted powder days.
However, for groomed slopes, smaller baskets are preferable. As such, one of the key factors to consider when buying ski poles is the type of terrain that you usually ski. If you tend to ski in variable conditions, you don't need to buy two sets of poles. Some manufacturers have designed ski poles with interchangeable baskets. These are common in telescoping poles, which are sometimes used by backcountry skiers. Telescoping poles can be made longer for uphill climbs and shorter for downhill descents.