The Top 10 Kits of the Last 30 Years

This fall marks Pygmy’s 30th year in business, making us the oldest and most esteemed stitch and glue kayak kit company. Over the past three decades we’ve earned some impressive titles, such as “Best Kayak Kit” and “Best Wooden Kayak“. While we are proud of our designs and all the fantastic magazine reviews, the real rewards are hearing from our customers how much their kayaks and boats have meant to them. From Korea, New Zealand, Burma/Myanmar, Turkey, Greece, Brazil and Norway (to name a few), our kits are on every continent and paddled in many varying bodies of water. We have drawers of thank you letters; one describes how building a kayak helped a man through chemotherapy and another woman explains the empowerment she found in putting the pieces of her kayak together at a time when her life felt like it was falling apart. We’ve heard from precocious 12 year olds who built their own kayak, 80 year olds taking up new sports, and soul-searching adventure seekers who’ve paddled our kayaks thousands of miles. Our customers are inspiring people and thanks to you these past 30 years have been a pleasure. THANK YOU.  Now here’s a look at the top 10 boat kits our customers have chosen to add to their fleet since we opened our doors in 1986:


1. THE COHO:  Voted Best Wooden Kayak and featured in the documentary “Paddle to Seattle” where two friends paddled Cohos for 97 days through the 1,300 mile Inside Passage from Alaska to Seattle: This is our most popular kayak kit of all time. “Of all of the boats I have reviewed, the Coho is my hands-down favorite. The combination of light weight and superb handling make this a wonderful boat. It is a good-tracking cruising boat I would recommend to anyone, whether novice or an experienced paddler.”- Readers Choice Award 2011 , Sea Kayaker Magazine Review



2. ARCTIC TERN 17: Voted “Best Kit Kayak” (Sea Kayaker Magazine’s Reader’s Choice Awards), the Arctic Tern 17 is famous for tracking well, and carving leaned turns while still behaving herself in wind and waves. While she shares the same beam and depth as the Coho (and is slightly shorter) her hull is hard-chined (see Hard Chine Hull vs. Multi-Chine). The Reviews say it all: ““I really loved this kayak. The hull design is top-notch, combining superb rough-water handling, good tracking, turning, and outstanding surfing ability for a touring kayak. A great choice for beginners interested in learning good technique and edge control.” 


3. OSPREY STD: The Osprey-Standard has enjoyed a cult-like following ever since her first introduction in 1996. For folks who enjoy stability paired with strong tracking, this kayak delivers. Sea Kayaker Magazine Review: “One of the most comfortable boats I’ve ever paddled. I felt secure in it immediately and after 10 miles felt like I’d hardly done any work.”


4. ARCTIC TERN 14:  The Arctic Tern 14 has been called “A godsend for smaller boaters.” Her low wetted surface and low frictional drag give her excellent cruising speed. Her nimble handling, coupled with straight tracking, make her great for light touring and surf and at only 32 lb, she’s extremely easy to cartop. She has been such a popular little kayak her hull has inspired some of our newer designs, including both the Ronan & Selkie.


5. WINEGLASS WHERRY: A classically beautiful row boat, the Wineglass Wherry’s wineglass-shaped transom and smooth double-ended waterline always draw admirers in the showroom. She has proven her timeless appeal given her consistent popularity ever since she first debuted in 1990.  At only 90lb she’s not only a beautiful skiff to row, but she’s easy to get to and from the water.  WoodenBoat Magazine Review: “The Wineglass Wherry transports effortlessly over-land on a two-wheel dolly.  Balancing its 90 lb over the wheels, I was able to push the boat along blacktop, down the ramp, and into the water alone, without any strain… The boat was well mannered on all points of sail, tracking dead straight. This was especially impressive on a beam reach, when one might expect the boat to round up, or ‘weathercock’. There was none of this behavior.”


6. OSPREY DOUBLE and OSPREY TRIPLE: Weighing only 60 lb and 64 lb, the Osprey Double &  Osprey Triple are a pleasure to paddle, easy to load, and with a 30″ beam, extremely steady in rough water. Over the years we have sold more triples than doubles due to the versatility of the triple (able to be paddled solo from the center cockpit) and its ability to accommodate families with small children or large dogs. When we have large crews of friends out touring this kayak is almost always with us since its wide beam can carry a Coleman stove and cast iron pan (which makes cooking for a crew vastly easier).


7. PINGUINO 145: For the past 5 years the Pinguino 145 has been our best-selling kayak. She’s a great choice for paddlers who want the quickness, lightweight, and joy of paddling a Pygmy, but prefer a roomier cockpit, and high initial stability. She has a larger cockpit and greater stability than our other designs making her a perfect choice for fishing, photography, bird watching, or a relaxing day on the water.  Even though she’s only 14.5′ long, her 25.5″ beam enables her to carry a good amount of gear, making her a great light touring kayak as well. Given her versatility it’s easy to understand why she holds the #1 spot. “The Pinguino hits the mark dead-on, a recreational-style kayak for the home builder.  It is perfectly suited for photography or bird watching and its stable behavior made it confidence inspiring, fun, and easy to paddle.” (TW, 6’1″, 180 lbs) – Sea Kayaker Magazine Review


8. PINGUINO SPORT: Lightweight, playful and compact, the Pinguino Sport has been a popular kayak for folks with space restrictions (i.e. aboard a sailboat) or who want the most stability with the least amount of weight but don’t mind sacrificing storage space and a little speed.  Sea Kayak Magazine Review: “There are a lot of things to like: light-weight, lively feel, good manners in a blow. It also adapts well to lazing about on a calm day and tending to camera or fishing pole.”



9. PINGUINO 145-4PD: For the last two years the Pinguino 145-4PD has been our second best-selling kayak. With an identical hull design to the Pinguino 145, the difference lies in the deck. The Pinguino 145-4PD has a smaller, arched cockpit design for a closer paddle stroke and to help facilitate lay-back rolls. She’s a popular option for smaller paddlers who want stability and for folks who want to take the Pinguino into the surf zone.



10. TAIGA WILDERNESS TRIPPER CANOE: It comes as no surprise to us the Taiga’s classic lines have maintained popularity over the years. In fact her inspiration follows lines of tradition that go back hundreds of years. Designer John Lockwood studied countless traditional canoes during the development stages. With few exceptions, original tripper canoes had symmetrical re-curved ends and tumble home sides. The Taiga was the first stitch and glue canoe kit to incorporate traditional tripper canoe design. Re-curved bow and stern and tumble home are characteristics that have been lost in mass produced plastic and fiberglass boats due to the difficulty of pulling them off molds, which may explain why folks in our showroom can’t help but stroke the sides of this classic beauty. Although designed with extended wilderness paddlers in mind, her easy handling, good stability and low weight make her a joy to paddle for weekend and day excursions as well. Canoe and Kayak Magazine Review: After years of designing and producing stitch-and-glue touring kayak kits, John Lockwood now offers a canoe for the paddler/builder. The finished product draws admiring stares from passersby, and it handles well on the water, too. The canoe nearly resembles a lapstrake boat, or better yet, a wooden version of fabric stretched over an internal frame. But there’s no internal frame, and the “fabric” is wood veneer.”

Thank you all for 30 wonderful years!!! Here’s to another 3 decades of building boats!

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