Cross country ski poles are defined by their three different components the grip, basket, and shaft. Each component is vitally important. Poles are built to accommodate different types of skiers. At Gear West, we carry all types of poles, from elite racing to touring. Small or tall we have got it all.
The poles grip is generally made of cork or plastic coated in rubber. Both materials are similar in weight, the difference is that the cork is less abrasive than rubber and is slightly softer, thus cork is normally seen on high end race poles.
The basket is the end of the pole. The part with a little spike to allow the entire pole to push into the snow and out. There are three broad categories of baskets: normal, roller ski ferrules, and triac basket system. The normal basket will attach by using hot glue, a roller ski ferrule has a carbide tip (made for roller skiing), and the triac basket system is designed to screw onto the bottom of the shaft and be removed easily for basket changing.
The shaft is the long stick part of the pole. An ideal shaft should be light and stiff. The shaft is the largest contributing factor to a poles weight. The weight of the shaft will make a huge difference in a race performance setting.