Question for bent shaft touring users:


I have read all the many posts on this subject and think I want to buy a bent paddle. I’m new to kayaking but I can feel it in my wrists already.

I paddled the last 4 of 5 days doing 5, 7, 2, 3 miles each day. I have had problems with my right wrist ocassionally in the past. My stroke is OK (I think) as I am not getting blisters and hold the paddle loosely as the books indicate. Maybe not enough rotation all the time. I just went from feathered to un-feathered and that seems to help. Its early enough for me to feel good either way.

I do not know anyone that has a bent paddle and before I go ahead and buy one I’d like some feed back from other users. From what I read, AT seems to have a really strong following. Much more so than Werner or the others. Has anyone went with an AT only to change to a Werner or lendal bent later on?


AT Exception

– Last Updated: Jun-22-04 4:11 PM EST –

I found a great reduction in arm fatigue (fingers, wrists, forearm and elbows) when I switched from a straight shaft to an AT. I believe that my form was getting better at the same time, and I was getting more torso rotation as well, so that might have been part of the improvement.

This past weekend I used my Lightning Standard for about four miles. The most noticable difference was the less comfortable shape of the Lightning. AT really has the shaft cross-section dialed in for good ergonomics.

I have not had the opportunity to use a Werner crankshaft. I have "air paddled" with one, and the bends seemed to be rather extreme compared to the AT. Good shaft cross section, though.

I didn't pop for teh carbon model, as I was cheap and was worried about damaging it. I like AT's so much now that I will probably buy a carbon model next year as a reward for losing weight.


An additional thought: the second bend in an AT shaft brings your elbows slightly closer to your torso, a very happy position.

Gear helps - but at the distances you are doing, I don’t think you should be having problems at a level that gear matters that much. Wouldn’t expect any paddle to be the answer (or the biggest factor).

Technique must be getting you. Work on that first. Loosen your grip. flare your outer fingers to allow shaft to angle while wrist stays straight. Open push hand.

Do wrist, hand, and forearm strengthening exercises. Some extra strength really helps. These parts are likely not used to repetitive aerobic type activity the way your legs and feet are. Small stresses - but many of them add up. Give it some time.

I used to do 10-15 (and occasionally up to 30) miles, at a good clip, as my normal one day paddles on a big heavy SOT with a straight shaft 60 degree feathered big blade paddle. Never had wrist issues. The feather seemed to help me, as it sort of had the paddle ready for the next catch. I did not have to rotate or tilt my wrists at all. Now do same (less than 15 is rare) with a Greenland paddle (obviously unfeathered) - and still no wrist issues.

Back to gear. I tried a Werner Carbon Kaliste bent this weekend. If you have the cash it’s top shelf. Very nice paddle - but after a year with a carbon GP no euro feels right anymore.

Werner to AT
I went from the Werner Kalliste to the AT. Why? Werner is fine for forward stroke, but it flutters more and is much less user friendly for blending strokes. I also like the AT shaft configuration better.

I prefer a Werner
Mine is a Camano Carbon, which I liked better than the Kaliste or any other that I have tried. That said, for me the AT is OK too.

There is no question that a bent shaft is easier on the joints and tendons than a straight shaft. If you can find an event like a paddle day with many vendors, you should be able to try a variety and get the one that is best for you.

My wife has a Little Dipper carbon bent shaft and she likes hers a whole bunch too. In the group I paddle with, between all of us, there is a wide variety of brands and sizes of bent and straight paddles. I am going to go out on a limb and say that about 50% of the total are Werner around here. Most of us are pretty satisfied with our Werners. One friend has a Bending Branches wooden bent shaft and I like it quite well, too, even though it is quite a bit heavier than my carbon paddle. I think it is worth consideration.



Not many miles yet…
It might a little early to condemn your shaft… A lot of things have to adjust when you start paddling. Take a forward stroke lesson and put on a LOT more miles. What boat and how wide is it.

I went to a Werner bent shaft to ease my tendentious and it works fine for me but it’s not a cure all. See if you can borrow or rent one for the day…

I see a lot of people pushing with a dropped wrist on the upper hand because their elbows are too low. Looks painful. You should raise your elbow until your forearm aligns with the paddle shaft and you can push with a neutral wrist.

Thanks for the tips. I had trouble with
my wrists for a long time. Started when I played a lot of ultimate frisbee back in college. Periodically comes back to haunt me. I am trying to read all I can and paddle “like the book says” but I am not sure I am getting it. I went out and did 4 miles yesterday. The worst 4 miles since I got my yak. I could not get it going no matter what. My stroke felt so awkward. At the end, my right forearm was sore even though I was only holding the paddle with two finger and open hand pushing on the top.

Some times I think that paddling AND lugging the boat on and off the roof of my wagon is equally to blame for my re-newed wrist problems.

Get the Brent Reitz forward stroke video. Besides making you a more efficient paddler, it’ll help with joint alignment issues that contribute to wrist pain. Also, get a couple of the Nigel Foster videos not so much for technique–though they are very good–but more to get a sense of how he uses his hands: light and delicate like an artist. The reason I like the AT over the Werner is that the AT allows much easier blending of strokes (e.g bow draw to side slip to forward stroke), which also makes it easier on the joints(no need to muscle the paddle).