Poach's original Havoc, Podium, and Defender denote three different shapes. The Havoc is an extended long-handle paddle, the Podium extended but with a short handle, and the Defender is the shorter, more manoeuvrable option.
With the original series, these three shapes were broken down into a Power and a Control, leaving us with six different paddles. Interestingly, the Power and Control series featured a different top sheet material instead of differing core thicknesses, a more common way of distinguishing between the two. The Power series used more brittle and explosive fibreglass, while the Controls were made from softer carbon fibre. These paddles were, and still are, great—especially in terms of value for money — but with the release of the 2.0 series, Poach is putting itself on the map and going toe to toe with pickleball's elite.
Instead of using different materials to distinguish Power and Control, Poach has adopted the more traditional way of doing things. Now, the Power series is a thinner 13 millimetres, while the Control is the same thickness as the original paddles; 16 millimetres. The fibreglass from the original Power paddles is gone, and both the new Power and Control feature a T700 carbon top sheet.
As it's done for most of the industry, T700 carbon has massively improved Poach's lineup. The paddles may have gone up in price — from $149.98 to $199.98 — but for under $200; they still represent some of the best value on the market.
We took the new 2.0 Havoc Power and Control for an extensive playtest. I'll compare them to their predecessors, but also to the industry standard and where they fall amongst the very best. The Havoc's shape is right up my alley, but if you want a slightly longer sweet spot in exchange for a bit of paddle speed, try the Podium. The Defender is not available in a 2.0.
I'm always slightly disappointed when fibreglass makes way for carbon, but that's more based on nostalgia than ration. It's difficult to argue that carbon isn't much better in almost every way, but fibreglass has a particular poppy sensation that's becoming increasingly rare. Still, the benefits of carbon are nearly infinite; better control, better stability, more forgiving, better touch, and even better power.
As much as I liked the original Poach Power paddles, there was a disconnect between the soft core and the brittle fibreglass, making them feel bizarre. The paddle had a weirdly springy sensation, but that is completely gone now.
Thanks to the thin 13-millimetre core, the Power feels poppy and instantly reactive. It compares closest to CRBN's 13mm paddle, although with a more forgiving and plush response. (Interestingly, although both paddles claim a 13-millimetre core, the Poach is noticeably thicker).
While the difference between the original Havoc Control and the new 2.0 isn't as stark, there is still a noticeable improvement. The T700 carbon feels softer, more stable, and provides a better overall connection to the ball. It's similar to other 16-millimetre T700 paddles, although Poach's core feels less hollow than most other paddles I've tried.
There is a plush response that is very addictive, and while it was more noticeable on the Control, it also applies to the Power. Poach is doing great work with this core, and I'm excited to see its development.
The Havoc Power isn't the heaviest paddle in the world; only 7.8 ounces. Still, it packs a punch with its thin and responsive core. It's significantly more powerful than the previous Havoc Power, mainly because it has gotten thinner.
If Poach wanted to take it to the next level from a power standpoint, they should consider making the paddle heavier. That being said – this could be a huge benefit for many of you out there – when a paddle is this light, it leaves a ton of room for customization. If you like a particular spec, you can pretty much modify it up to anything.
The Havoc Control is actually heavier (8.0 oz.) than the Havoc Power, so what it loses in energy return, it gains in power with mass behind the ball. Overall, the Power is still more powerful because of the more responsive thinner core, but it's close.
It's also noticeably more powerful than the previous version (re: better grade carbon fibre) and right in the middle of the spectrum compared to the rest of the industry. Again, since this paddle isn't that heavy in stock form, it can also be customized to a specific spec, naturally making it more powerful.
The Havoc 2.0 Power and Control both excelled in stability. Stability will be better on the thicker Control, but compared to other paddles with similar specs, these two are top-tier. Poach claims to build a stronger core than its competitors, and while I don't know exactly what "strength" entails, it could mean stability.
The sweet spot felt noticeably more forgiving with these two paddles; despite their relatively low weight, they stayed firm when I countered high-paced groundstrokes from the baseline and at the net. I like when a paddle feels this solid and consistent because you know what it will give you when points get tight.
I won't go all out and say that the stability is as good as the Joola Ben Johns Hyperion CFS 16mm, which, to me, is the gold standard, but it's close, and Poach should keep looking to improve it because the right core is what separates a good paddle, from a great one.
We know the story with spin when it comes to T700 carbon fibre. It's a gritty, durable material that doesn't just help produce spin with its texture but also thanks to how it pockets the ball. It has a way of grabbing onto the pickleball and maintaining energy during contact that it then shoots out when the ball leaves the paddle bed.
As expected, spin production is top-tier with a thin paddle like the Power. Again, if you want more RPMs on those shots, you could add a bit of lead high up the paddle, but even in stock form, spin is elite.
Spin production is slightly lower on the Control than the Power, but it's still excellent. It has improved leaps and bounds from the previous one and is similar to other 16-millimetre paddles in the industry.
Even though the 2.0 Havoc Power lost 3 millimetres in thickness, it still has significantly better control than its fibreglass predecessor; that's just how much better carbon is. The improved feel plays a huge role in upping control; carbon adds an element of softness that wasn't there with the fibreglass top sheet, despite the thicker core.
Compared to the rest of the industry, the Havoc Power is still a thin paddle, so you won't have the same control as the most premium thicker options, but if you want more control, that's where the Havoc Control comes in.
This is a fantastic paddle for control, one of the best. In stock form, it's light and manoeuvrable, so easy to manage around the net, and because the sweet spot is so plush and forgiving, there is more margin for error than you might expect from an extended, long-handle paddle.
These 2.0 paddles are fantastic, and unless they go and reinvent the wheel, Poach won't be improving the next version as much as they did this one; but they won't need to. The 2.0 Series is right up there with the best the industry has to offer, and in terms of value for money, I have a tough time thinking of anything better.
If you'd like to try out any of Poach's paddles, come by the store to take out some demos or check them out online.