The Vanguard Power Air Invikta is part of Selkirk's latest flagship series—and one of the most premium options on the market. It was the brainchild of Tyson McGuffin, and is the longest and narrowest of the three Vanguard Power Air models.
I got my hands on one for some in-depth testing and put together my thoughts on whether it's really worth its price tag. Keep reading to find out why this paddle made it into our list of best pickleball paddle in 2023.
Our verdict4.5Selkirk have created something truly impressive here. With its clever aerodynamic design and premium tech, the Power Air Invikta manages to deliver great value for money—even considering its $250 price tag. There is definitely a learning curve with this paddle, especially with the relatively small sweet spot. However, if you're an advanced player wanting to bring more power and spin into your game, you won't find much better than this.
Buy or pass?
You want more speed in your game.
With its aerodynamic throat design, this paddle really cuts through the air.
You're a power player.
The paddle length and throat design help you put some real power behind your swings.
You want more spin.
Any spin junkies will love the grippy face on this paddle.
You're a beginner.
This paddle will be a challenge for any newcomers to pickleball.
You're looking for a cheap paddle.
At $250, this paddle is one of the most expensive on the market.
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One of the first things you notice about the Vanguard Power Air Invikta is its sleek, futuristic design. This paddle turns heads on the court, largely because of its aerodynamic throat design. It almost looks like it came from an aviation factory and not a pickleball paddle shop.
There’s no denying this is a premium paddle. It uses the highest-grade materials and state-of-the-art technology in its construction and has the price tag to prove it.
Watch my unboxing video here:
Sticking to its aviation theme, the paddle’s materials feel ultra-lightweight yet strong and flexible. That satisfying ‘swoosh’ you hear when swinging shows the precision engineering that went into making it.
Selkirk has nailed it with the "midweight" spec of this paddle. It feels just right in your hand—not too light, not too heavy. However, the face does feel lighter than the specs otherwise indicate. This is partly because of the aerodynamic design. A few players I shared it with didn't love how light it felt. As someone who prefers lighter paddles, it suits my game well.
This is not specifically a control paddle—it’s not very forgiving and does lack the feel of a JOOLA Perseus or Paddletek Tempest Wave v3. But if you're a banger, or use 3rd shot drives in your game, you're not going to find much better than the Power Air.
Brandon Mackie shows off the design of the Selkirk Power Air Invikta
Deadly against the lob, as the elongated shape helps my reach
Generates tons of spin with its grippy face
The mix of power and spin ramps up my topspin serve and drives
With great power and spin comes a compromise on control
Challenging ‘poppy’ feel that took getting used to
I found myself losing precision in my 3rd shot drops at times
Selkirk Labs, founded in 2022, is a research and development program dedicated to creating the best pickleball paddles that modern technology can come up with. The Vanguard Power Air Invikta is the culmination of all their research and testing up to now.
The paddle incorporates cutting-edge features that Selkirk claims generate more power, spin, and control over your shots. Let’s take a look at three features that I noticed in my performance on the court.
Effortless, powerful swing ✔️
Selkirk put a lot of thought into the aerodynamics of this paddle, and you can really feel it when playing. The ‘Air-Dynamic’ throat is designed to reduce air resistance and boost paddle speed, and I found it worked as advertised.
Despite being a midweight paddle, it cuts through the air like my lighter Prince Response PRO. The extra speed on my swing put a ton of power on my drives.
The throat is a standout feature, not only visually (part of what first caught my interest when demoing the paddle last year), but also in terms of performance. This one design feature is the main reason this paddle is the most powerful one I’ve ever played with.
Watch me test the paddle's aerodynamics:
Maximum face space and sweet spot ✔️
These days, advanced paddles have dispensed with edge guards almost completely, with the assumption that advanced players will rarely knock or scrape their paddle off the playing surface. This is likely the case—unless you're me!
The reasoning behind edgeless faces is to maximize the area of the playing surface and increase the size of the sweet spot. Looking at the shape, I honestly was not expecting a large sweet spot.
Brandon Mackie pointing to the Selkirk Power Air Invikta pickleball paddle
While I’d still call this a medium sweet spot paddle (and not the most forgiving), the design yielded a surprisingly large sweet spot for a paddle with a narrow body and elongated shape.
The sweet spot isn't quite like the massive one on my previous paddle, the Prince Response PRO, but I was able to consistently get a good connection with the ball and rarely mishit.
If you're concerned about sweet spot size, the Vanguard Power Air Epic offers a wider face and larger sweet spot.
Quadflex 4-layer hybrid face
With pro-spin and nextgen micro-texture technology ✔️
This feature is quite a mouthful to name, but boy can you feel it on the courts! The face itself is made from two layers of FiberFlex and two layers of carbon, but it’s what covers these layers that’s really interesting.
If you run your hand along the paddle face, you can feel the rough, bumpy surface that shows this paddle was engineered for spin. The textured face grips the ball and loads up spin on your shots.
Brandon Mackie demonstrates the grippy surface on the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta
In practice sessions, I felt it grip and cling to the ball most effectively on my backhand slice return or when mixing it up with a spin serve. I could keep my backhand slices low and deep, and mostly keep my opponents on the defensive.
My opponents even commented a few times "That had a ton of spin!" when missing a return on my topspin forehands. That was a good feeling—the Power Air paddle was definitely helping to finesse my pickleball game.
Power is what this paddle does best. I felt a ton of drive and zip on almost every shot I hit with it—from serves to drives and everything in between.
The 'Air-Throat' has a lot to do with that power, as does the length and shape of the handle. The long handle and paddle face make for more torque on your strokes, which generates all that power.
This paddle truly shines when it comes to spin, and it’s one of the first things you'll notice when you hit your first ball. The gritty face effectively grips the surface as it’s designed to do.
Whether you're hitting serves, drives or lobs, the spin comes naturally and the ball tends to go where you aim it.
The ideal weight for a paddle is all down to personal preference and what works best for your playing style.
For me, the solid midweight of the Power Air makes the paddle feel well-balanced. The face was a little light to begin with, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Especially if you’re coming from a lightweight paddle, this one will feel natural.
The Vanguard Power Air Invikta’s handle comes wrapped in Selkirk’s Geo Grip. According to Selkirk, this feature uses cutting-edge tech. It’s designed to wick moisture away from the palm and stays grippy in the hand even during a sweaty game.
I used the regular 4¼" grip, and didn't notice too much about it. The size felt about right to me, and the grip held up during sweaty games in the Phoenix heat.
Overall, these paddles are sturdily built and likely to last. However, the lack of an edge guard has its pros and cons. Edge guards are often the first thing to get damaged on a paddle, but they also protect the paddle face from damage.
I’d recommend using edge tape to avoid the disappointment of wrecking this pricey paddle. Mine already has more dings on it than I would like!
Soft game: 6/10
This paddle is designed for power and speed, so don't expect it to enhance your soft game much. It can feel a little ‘wooden’ on the soft shots, and cause the ball to pop up a little too much.
The unwanted pop on my dinks is my biggest complaint with the paddle’s performance, a view shared by a few other players at my local court.
It also struggled at times on the 3rd shot drop, especially if I had to take it deep. Sometimes in intense games, I abandoned the drops altogether and played into its strengths with a drive on the 3rd shot.
However, I got used to this within a few days of playing, and the paddle started to perform better for the short game, especially for routine dinking in the kitchen.
The sweet spot is relatively tight, so less advanced players may take longer to get used to this paddle in their soft game.
This Vanguard Power Air Invikta currently retails for $250, which is one of the highest price points you’ll find in paddles. That said, Selkirk has done a good job justifying that premium.
Their paddle technology is a lot more than just marketing buzzwords—you can really feel the difference on every shot, from how the paddle moves through the air to how it grips the ball on spin shots.
Value for money
While the CRBN-2X Power Series is a real heavy hitter, it lacks the control and ball grip of the Vanguard Power Air Invikta. It also doesn't use the edgeless design, which somewhat reduces the sweet spot.
The Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta paddle laid out on a pickleball court
The JOOLA Hyperion also has a super grippy face thanks to its 'carbon friction surface', but it won't fly through the air like the Vanguard Power Air Invikta with its air throat design. You simply can't generate the same amount of power.
So, is the Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta really worth the $250 price tag? I'll say yes, but only if you're an advanced player and can afford it.
There are other paddles for half the price that also perform very well, like the Paddletek Tempest Wave v3. The JOOLA Perseus (Ben Johns’ paddle of choice) is a better all-court paddle for most players and comes with a cheaper price tag.
Who uses the Selkirk series?
Tyson Mcguffin collaborated with Selkirk to come up with the design of this paddle, and it’s his go-to paddle.
What do pros say about it?
"Easy pop, forgiving hitting zone and great spin" said 5-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one, Tyson McGuffin.
Chris Olson, professional paddle reviewer and creator of The Pickleball Studio podcast, calls this paddle "the king of spin".
The Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta is, without a doubt, a thoughtfully designed and cutting-edge pickleball paddle.
It delivers unparalleled power and spin, at a time when the whole industry is heading in that direction (and scrambling to catch up with Selkirk).
The question of whether this paddle is right for you also depends on your preferred pickleball strategy. The power-boosting features lend themselves to a power player.
The Selkirk Vanguard Power Air Invikta paddle resting against a pickleball net
If you incorporate 3rd shot drives, rely on powerful, deep serves to start the point, or have a powerful swing volley game, this is a great paddle choice for you.
Alternatively, if you play a lot of competitive singles, this is a killer paddle for passing shots. There’s a big reason why the singles master Tyson McGuffin uses this as his paddle of choice.
Despite the high price point, it gets 5 stars from me. Why not try one out and see for yourself how it compares to the competition?
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