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Primal 2 vs. Primal Zen: What’s the Difference?

With almost identical names, it’s easy to confuse the Primal 2 with the new Primal Zen, however there are a few key differences between the two shoes.

After nearly a decade of prototypes and testing, we simply took your favorite features of the Primal 2 to create the Primal Zen, a similar, but different shoe to accommodate different needs. 

Let’s break down the difference between the two shoes to help you decide which is right for you. Although, we wouldn’t be disappointed if you can’t decide between the two. We’re biased, but we think they both rock.   


Primal 2

Primal Zen

Heel Drop




  • Tongue and lacing system
  • Wide toe box
  • 9mm stack height
  • Gusseted tongue with lacing system
  • Wide toe box
  • 11mm stack height








6.9 oz (M10 / W11.5)

8.2 oz (M10 / W11.5) 

Similarities and Differences Between the Two

Think of the Primal Zen as the heir apparent to the Primal 2; just like Prince Charles is to Queen Elizabeth. This doesn’t mean that the Primal 2 is going anywhere, Lems is just expanding its Primal Kingdom!

The Primal Zen has the same fit and feel of the Primal 2, including the zero-drop heel and wide toe box to give those toes plenty of space. The zero-drop heel in both shoes enables your feet to be more responsive to the ground, which helps with proper posture, balance, and spine alignment.  

The main difference is that we added a more grounded base to the Primal Zen (opposed to the Primal 2’s more rounded heel) and 2mm of extra sole for added protection and durability.

Both styles are great super minimalist, vegan-friendly, kicking-around-town options. However, the Zen offers a wider outsole width than the Primal 2, and a touch more cushion while still keeping the weight off.

The materials used in both models feature a breathable mesh to increase air flow through the feet and dry quickly in inclement weather (although neither are waterproof).

For those who wear Correct Toes with their shoes, they will find they fit perfectly inside the Zen as they do the Primal 2!

Best Use for Each Shoe

Because the Primal 2 and the Primal Zen are very similar, they are pretty interchangeable in terms of use.

Both shoes are featherweight light and made for everyday urban adventures and errands, like walking the dog, meeting friends for happy hour, or bike commuting across town. 

The main difference lies in the weight, added cushion, and extra outsole width of the Primal Zen.  

Here’s what we recommend for optimal duration and longevity for each shoe:

Primal 2
  • Casual hikes
  • Bike commuting
  • Walking the dog
  • Around town
  • Travel
Primal Zen
  • Casual hikes
  • Bike commuting
  • Walking the dog
  • Around town
  • Travel


The Primal 2 is available in six different mostly single-tone colorways with no design markings. The minimal outsole gives the shoe a more streamlined appearance and sheds weight. If your walk feels a little more zippy, well that may be why.

Comparatively, the Primal Zen has a more athletic look on account of the thicker outsole and additional padding in the tongue and materials. The Primal Zen will be available early this spring in two different colorways: Asphalt and Woodland. White Sand will be released late spring/early summer.

Both styles are unisex!

Which is the Right Shoe for You? 

If you’re looking for an everyday shoe for errands, walking the dog, or kicking it around town, you can’t go wrong with either shoe. 

If you prefer a more athletic appearance, go for the Primal Zen. If you dig a more minimal look, then the Primal 2 may be more your style. 

While both shoes have a wide toe box, if you have serious bunions or very wide feet, the Primal Zen may be the better pick.

No matter which one you choose, we can guarantee that you’ll look good and that your feet will feel oh-so-comfortable!

Additional Articles

Do High Top Shoes Protect Ankles Better?

Ankle sprains are among the most common sport injuries, especially among hikers and trail runners who walk along uneven terrain. 

How often should you replace shoes?

If you’re a runner, you’re probably aware of the general rule that you need to replace your shoes every 300 to 400 miles. But what about everyday shoes? How often should you replace those?

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