Hudef is a pickleball paddle company that’s been in the space for some time. They’ve recently made a push with a handful of new paddle releases that feature new and innovative tech at markedly low prices.
I’ve been playing extensively with their new paddles over the past month and a half and have been overall been quite impressed by them considering the price points they’re being offered for.
In this post, we’re looking at Hudef’s new Viva Pro paddle. It’s made with thermoforming, foam-injected edges, and a T700 raw carbon fiber face. These are the standard features of the newer “Gen. 2” themoform classification of paddles.
This was an interesting one because of how cheap the Viva Pro is compared to other Gen 2s like the Ronbus Pulsar, Legacy Pro, Vatic Pro V7, and Six Zero Black Diamond line.
So, how does the Viva Pro stack up against these Gen. 2 paddles? Let’s take a look.
Paddle Technical Specifications
$99($89 with code DASHPB)
- Shape: Elongated
- Face: T700 raw carbon fiber
- Core: Polypropylene Honeycomb
- Core thickness: 14mm & 16mm versions
- Thermoformed: Yes
- Edge foam: Yes
- Average weight: 7.8-8.3 oz
- Grip length: 5.5″
- Swing Weight: 117~ (14mm) 120~ (16mm)
- Spin RPMs: 1750~
- Grip size: 4.125″
- Total length: 16.5″
- Width: 7.3″
Gen. 2 thermoforming for under $100? Hudef is certainly pushing the limits with the Viva Pro. I’ve been playing with both the 14mm and 16mm versions of the Viva Pro and have been overall quite impressed with these paddles.
The Viva Pro is on the more controllable end of thermoformed paddles. I had no problem adjusting to it after playing with so many thermoforms over the past half year. It’s more plush than pretty much all of the other paddles in this category. Dinking and drops came quickly and easily and I felt in control of my placement right out of the gate.
The spin of the raw carbon face is high, as expected. They’re going with the friction type paddle face that’s been performing better than the more gritty surfaces. I had zero problem putting the spin I like onto the ball with the Viva Pro.
The power is the only area that doesn’t feel on par with some of the hardest hitting Gen. 2 thermoforms on the market. The Viva Pro’s power output feels closer to a Gen. 1 carbon fiber paddle than a Gen. 2.
With the 16mm Viva Pro, I had to generate a little extra power of my own to match the play I get with those paddles. The 14mm hits harder. I still get a bit more power with the Viva Pro than I do with non-thermoformed paddles, all without sacrificing control.
Overall, the Viva Pro easily made my list of the best paddles you can get under $100. It’s balanced with a nice mix of control, spin, power, and pop. I love the elongated handle and elongated shape. The shape is pretty much identical to the CRBN 1X.
The 5.5″ handle length that the Viva Pro has is my ideal. It’s great for two handed backhands and just feels good to play with.
The 4.125″ circumference also happens to be my favorite size. It’s just a great size grip for most people and can easily be enlarged with overgrips for players that prefer a thicker handle.
The handle shape is slightly square, which isn’t 100% ideal. But it’s not boxy by any means, like the Electrum handles.
The balance and weight distribution of the Viva Pro feels good. It’s slightly heavier in the head than some other paddles due to the added edge-foam injections. But I didn’t find either the 14mm or 16mm Viva Pros to be head heavy or unwieldy. The balance and overall weight distribution of the paddles are excellent.
Both the 14mm and 16mm Viva Pros feel softer than other thermoformed paddles when contacting the ball. Thermoformed paddles typically have a signature stiffness and poppiness to them. The Viva Pro retains a plush feel that’s more similar to a Gen. 1 carbon fiber paddle. This softer feel makes your shots feel easier to control, but you get less pop and power off the paddle face.
The Viva Pro’s power output is good, but not on par with most of the other Gen. 2 thermoformed paddles. I’d put it solidly in the “Gen. 1.5” range power range.
The 16mm hits slightly harder than paddles like the Joola Hyperion/Vision, Ronbus R1.16, and Vatic Pro Prism V7, but is noticeably less powerful than Gen. 2s like the CRBN 1X, Ronbus Pulsar, SixZero Black Diamond, and Vatic Pro V7.
The 14mm definitely hits harder and feels more like a thermoformed paddle with power output. But it ends up being on par with some of the harder hitting 16mm thermos, not their 14mm counterparts.
That said, I still found the power from the Viva Pro to be entirely enough for most circumstances. The paddle has enough power to put the ball away and create some great passing shots. Most players will be happy with the power available with the Viva Pro, especially if they opt for the 14mm version. Just don’t expect to feel the ball launch off the paddle like a rocket.
You get less power and a more plush feel with the Viva Pro paddles compared to most thermoformed paddles available. This results in more controllability for most players.
Dinks, drops, blocks, and resets all felt good with both paddles. I felt plenty confident right out of the gate hitting all of my placement shots with both Viva Pros. Placing the ball with proper depth and height felt just right. It took me a couple of games to adjust and not pop up any balls with the 14mm, but it was smooth sailing after that. It was a similar process that I had when first adjusting to my Vatic Pro Flash 14mm.
The 16mm has a great sweet spot that the edge-foam injections clearly help with. It’s very large and results in a lot of clean off-center shots that would otherwise die. The 14mm has a slightly smaller sweet spot, and I did notice more balls die when hit near the edge. But this is to be expected with a thinner-cored paddle.
The spin output of the Viva Pro is in the good to great range. It’s not insanely high, but that’s a pretty high bar these days. The Viva Pro is certainly better than the vast majority of pickleball paddles being released today.
I had zero issue delivering deadly slice returns and dinks. I was testing the 16mm Viva Pro alongside the new Engage Ultra yesterday and the Viva Pro blew the Engage out of the water with spin output.
Overall, I felt like I could put my spin game fully into play with the Viva Pros. At no point with either the 14mm or 16mm did I feel like I had to adjust or limit my spin game.
The Viva Pro feels balanced and moves well in hand. The balance of speed and power felt harmonious. It’s not super fast nor is it clunky/slow. I was glad that the paddle wasn’t head heavy, because that can get annoying when engaged in hands battles at the net.
Most players shouldn’t encounter any issues with hand speed playing with the Viva Pro. If you want the fastest hands possible, go with the 14mm version. It definitely moves faster. If you want to move and react even faster, consider picking up a hybrid shaped paddle like the Six Zero Double Black Diamond or Vatic Pro Flash which have shorter and more aerodynamics paddle faces.
Hudef has been manufacturing pickleball paddles for 10 years and has some experience doing hot-pressing/thermoforming with padel rackets. This has helped them work to address some of the common thermoforming durability issues.
I haven’t encountered any durabilities issues playing with my Hudef paddles so far. This includes delaminating, disbonding, or core crush. I will certainly update this article as these paddles get more play and if I hear any buzz about durability issues.
One thing that’s nice about Hudef is their limited lifetime warranty. If you run into manufacturing issues, they’ll replace your paddle. This is an excellent deal considering how inexpensive these paddles are.
$89 (w/ discount code) for a Gen.2 thermoformed paddle that features a lifetime warranty for manufacturer defects is absolutely excellent.
The paddle performs well, so it’s hard to go wrong here for that price. Zero complaints on the value front.
Should you buy the Hudef Viva Pro?
If you prioritize placement over power, but still want a little bit more power than a Gen. 1 paddle, then the thermoformed Viva Pro should be a good option for you.
If you’re in the budget range of $90, then the Hudef Viva Pro just makes sense. You get thermoforming and a lifetime warranty for $89.
If you want stability and control, then the 16mm should be your go-to choice. If you want a bit more power and increased hand speed, then the 14mm might be your preferred choice.
Overall, the Viva Pro really met expectations in my experience. And I think you’ll be happy if you decide to play with one, too.
If you have a higher budget and want to go with a premium Gen. 2 thermoformed paddle, my top recommendation right now is the Ronbus R3 Pulsar. You’ll get more power and a bigger sweet spot with the Ronbus over the Viva Pro.
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