I am actively looking for my first “real boat” something in the 17’ touring kayak range. I have some ideas on the boat but would like any input on paddles. I use a bent shaft atx flexi in ww and it seems to be better on my wrists. Are the bent shafts as popular with tourers? I borrowed a really light wood paddle the other day and it felt really nice.
Bent shaft v straight
I find that all bent shafts are not equal - for example the angle and indesing etc of the bent shaft on my H2O WW paddle felt great and natural from day one, but for the long boats my primary paddle is a straight shaft Epic because the Werner bent shaft does not seem to fit me really comfortably. The Lerner is better, but not quite there yet. It might take a little time to discover what fits you best.
There are various arguments for and against bent shaft, but over a distance weight is the most important factor for most.
Use What You Are Comfortable With
if it's a bent shaft that you have been using all these years, stick with it. If a friend has a straight shaft that s/he is willing to loan you for several days so you can try and figure out whether it's something that'll work for you, that's great. What you don't want is to go out and buy something just because "everyone else is using it..."
The fact is that most folks can adjust to a different paddle after a period of use. But if you have one that already works, why bother?
Try for yourself
My own paddles have all been straight shaft, but I have borrowed a couple of bent shaft paddles. I couldn’t detect any real advantage to them. They didn’t feel bad, just no better than the straight shaft.
If you try other people’s straight shafts and like them, you can save money because there is a price premium for the bent shafts. But if your body doesn’t like them, it wouldn’t be worth the savings.
The only way to go.
AT cranked shafts
If you like the cranked shaft on your AT ww paddle, chances are you’ll like their cranked touring paddles too. I love my AT Exception - the angle is different than the Werner, and I prefer it - it’s a sweet paddle.
Unnecessary for most paddlers
It seems a bent-shaft paddle offers an advantage only if you are susceptible to wrist or elbow tendon problems such as carpal tunnel. If you aren’t, there appears to be no advantage.
In fact, I can think of several DISadvantages to a bent shaft:
1> Additional cost. In general, in the moderate price range, the bent-shaft feature will add about $80-100 to a comparable paddle, all else being equal.
2> Cumbersome to pack and to affix to deck as a spare.
3> A straight-shaft paddle allows one to move both hands outward for greater bracing leverage and less speed on the water, or inward for increased speed but less leverage. Like high and low gears on a bicycle, I like to adapt my hand position depending on conditions. A bent-shaft paddle requires that you keep your hands in one position, so does not allow this.
4> In heavy crosswinds, and/or to augment a rudder or skeg, one can shift BOTH hands to the left (or both to the right) in order to offset the entire paddle and thereby incorporate a sweep into every stroke. Again, a bent shaft does not allow this.
5> In a survival situation, a bent shaft cannot be adapted for use as an emergency blowgun for shooting prey from trees (squirrels, raccoons, howler monkeys, depending on locale …
As others have mentioned, you should certainly try a bent-shaft if you can, preferably for a few hours, to see if it eases or prevents joint pain, or just plain feels better to you.
Well even with a bend
Even though there’s a bend, you can still move your hands around on the paddle shaft to do the things you mention, you just lose the wrist alignment benefit. It’s true about it being more difficult to stow on deck, but only a little. I think the bent shaft would be preventive of wrist damage, too, not just a pain reliever as in my case. And to take care of pesky critters, you can swing the whole carbon thing over your head like a stealth ninja, hacking them up with the deadly, razor sharp edge - no darts needed…