thanks for all the input guys! i did what you said and demoed both a straight shaft and a bent shaft. while both felt pretty good i went with the bent shaft because i have heard it reduces stress on the wrists and it just felt more natural in my hands. thanks again for the input
Here's one more opinion. I paddle a straight shaft over the bent because I feel as though it gives you a little more leverage with the boof however I feel the AT paddle is the exception. It has leverage, it's comfortable but its also one of the most expensive. The main reason I paddle the straight is because there is always the risk of loosing a paddle or having it break and if you're paying retail for your paddle this can get expensive. As a new paddler you probobly won't break any paddles but if you don't hold on to that thing it's a lot of money floating down the river.