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Primal Pursuit vs. Primal 2 & Trailhead/Mesa: What’s the Difference?

With almost identical names, it’s easy to confuse the Primal 2 with the new Primal Pursuit, however there are key differences between our highly anticipated Primal Pursuit, and the OG Primal 2! In short, the Primal Pursuit is a sort of hybrid of both the Primal 2 and the Trailhead/Mesa.

When we designed the Primal Pursuit, we took your favorite features of the Primal 2 and the Trailhead/Mesa to create something in between. While they are similar shoes in many ways, there are a few key differences between the three models.

Let’s break those down to help you find the best shoe for your needs.

PRIMAL PURSUIT vs. PRIMAL 2 vs. TRAILHEAD/MESA

Primal Pursuit Primal 2

Trailhead / Mesa

Heel Drop Zero-drop Zero-drop 4mm
Fit Tongue and lacing system, like a regular shoe Tongue and lacing system, like a regular shoe Mesa: Sock-like fit with lacing overlay Trailhead: Tongue and lacing system
Use

Trail / Town

Urban / Casual Athletic / Trail / Town
Vegan-friendly Yes Yes Yes, all models except Trailheads featuring suede
Stack Height 14mm 9mm 17mm / 21mm
Weight 10.5oz (M10 / W11.5) 6.9oz (M10 / W11.5) 11.7oz (M10) 9.5oz (W9)

Similarities between the Primal Pursuit, the Primal 2, and the Trailhead/Mesa

Think of the Primal Pursuit as a cousin of the Primal 2 and Trailhead/Mesa. It 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 the Primal 2 and the Primal Pursuit enables your feet to be more responsive to the ground, which helps with proper posture, balance, and spine alignment. 

Comparatively, the Trailhead/Mesa features a 4mm drop and tends to fit a bit more narrow in the toe box. Like the Primal Pursuit, the Trailhead and Mesa are Mountain-to-Town shoes that can handle more rugged terrain. 

All three models are made using 100% vegan materials (minus a few Trailhead models that feature suede) and feature a breathable mesh to increase air flow through the feet and dry quickly in inclement weather.

Customers who found the Trailhead and Mesa too narrow will be pleased with the wider fit of the Primal Pursuit.

Best Use for Each Shoe

Thanks to our new Trail Traction Outsole, the Primal Pursuit can tackle more rugged terrain than the Primal 2, which features an 8.0mm LemsRubber outsole.

What this means is that the Primal Pursuit has more grip on the trail and slick terrain, like the Trailhead/Mesa. The Trailhead, Mesa, and the Primal Pursuit have slightly higher stack heights of 15-20mm and 14mm respectively, whereas the Primal 2 tops out at 9.0mm. The added height provides a bit more cushioning for sensitive feet without adding too much overall weight.

Though it has a more sporty look and feel, the Primal Pursuit can easily transition from trail to town with a change of clothes, like the Trailhead or Mesa. 

In comparison, the Primal 2 is an ultra lightweight shoe, ideal for everyday urban adventures and errands, like walking the dog, meeting friends for happy hour, or bike commuting across town.

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

    Primal Pursuit

    • Hiking
    • Backpacking
    • Easy trail running
    • Around town
    • Walking the dog
    • Bike commuting
    • Gym

    Primal 2

    • Gravel and paved trails
    • Bike commuting
    • Beach days
    • Walking the dog
    • Around town
    • Travel
    • Gym
    • Bike commuting

    Trailhead/Mesa

    • Hiking
    • Backpacking
    • Easy trail running
    • Around town
    • Walking the dog
    • Bike commuting
    • Gym
    • Yoga

    Style

    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 Pursuit has a more athletic look on account of the thicker outsole and a little additional padding in the tongue and materials. The addition of the chevrons running along the side of the shoe give the Primal Pursuit a more retro appearance.

    The Primal Pursuit comes in three different colorways: Orion Blue, Nocturnal Ninja, and Morning Dew.

    *Please note: Morning Dew is in women's sizes only.

    Lastly, the Trailhead/Mesa are available in various colorways, which have a slight pop of color in the otherwise monochromatic scheme. Like the Primal Pursuit, the Trailhead and Mesa give off a more sporty look complete with tread for trail days.

    Which is the Right Shoe for You? 

    If you are someone who hits the trail regularly and then finds themselves meeting friends for dinner after a long day in the woods, then we recommend the Primal Pursuit.

    For those who are on the go and running errands around town, walking to work or walking the dogs, then the Primal 2 are the shoes for you. 

    Those more on the go, and spend more time pursuing endeavors around town, with the regular hike thrown in, then check out the Trailhead or Mesa. You’ll especially love the Mesa if you just can’t bother with laces or prefer more ankle support.

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