As editors around travel gear, we’ve benefited from trying out many “travel” shoes, and Alllbirds have always stood out. However, Vessi is the latest shoe to catch our eye and test around our home in British Columbia.
Two new shoe brands are making waves, and that’s Vessi and Allbirds. If you’re after a new pair of shoes to keep your feet warm and dry, you’ve likely come across one of these two shoe brands. They’re a perfect travel, every day, or rainy day shoe.
If you’re after a stylish shoe that can handle the worst of rainy weather, you’ve come to the right spot. All Vessi shoes are 100% waterproof yet remain breathable, soft, and comfortable. The Allbirds Mizzles may only be water-resistant, but they are uber comfortable and one of the most sustainable shoes on the market.
Vessi vs Allbirds
For the comparison, we’ll stick to Allbirds’ “Mizzle” line of shoes as those are water-resistant and most comparable to the Vessi line. Of course, it helps the company is only a two-hour drive away in Vancouver. These shoes feel like ideal for the Pacific Northwest as they are a 100% waterproof knit sneaker – and there are plenty of rain and muddy days in the PNW! That said, we’re big fans of Allbirds and have been wearing and traveling in their shoes for the last four years.
Vessi is the latest trendsetting shoe brand based in Vancouver. Mikaella Go, Tony Yu, and Andy Wang set out to make the perfect shoe for their local climate that’s well known for its wet weather. The result is a minimalist shoe that is fully waterproof.
It’s a new shoe brand launched in 2018 on Kickstarter and has since expanded its line to include six models and two kids’ shoes. The brand has gained a cult following for its comfy waterproof shoes that are excellent for travel.
Allbirds are the darling sustainable footwear brand from San Francisco. The brand launched in 2014 and quickly changed the shoe market with its minimalistic look and sustainable cred. Allbirds original wool runner uses merino wool and an EVA sugarcane foam.
It’s now a classic accessory, and just about every trendsetter, including former President Obama, has worn a pair. The founders, Tim Brown & Joey Zwillinger, wanted a simple shoe that was comfortable and breathable.
Side By Side Details
We choose two popular styles from both brands that are comparable. First, we’ll start with the Vessi Weekend and the Allbirds Wool Runner. They both keep it pretty simple with minimal branding and a small logo on the heel of both shoes.
The Vessi Weekend has a classic sneaker style and a wider toe box. In contrast, Allbirds Wool Runner is much more simplistic with a tighter and softer toe box. The material used is one of the most significant differences between the two shoe brands. Since the material is softer with Allbirds, it’s common to see a “toe-hump” as your big toe pushes out the toe box.
The other two shoes we pulled from the lines are the Vessi Everyday Move and Allbirds Wool Dashers. Everyday Move shoes are a nice blend of athletic and casual sneakers. They’re perfect for errands and daily life.
While the Wool Dashers have the typical minimalist style, they add a wide platform for running shoes. Wool Dashers are a tough fit for me as they aren’t quite robust enough to keep up with my running demands but aren’t casual sufficient to feel suitable for regular life. However, for light workouts, they could work for the right person.
Vessi’s utilize a patented material called Dyma-tex. The result is 100% waterproof material that is both comfortable and breathable. It’s a little thicker than the Allbirds wool knit and feels more durable. It is breathable but can’t quite keep up with the superior performance of wool as it wicks away moisture.
Unlike other waterproof materials, Vessi doesn’t just use a coating or spray. One of the coolest things about Vessi shoes is their patented Dyma-Tex technology. While other options may use any coatings or sprays to make their shoes waterproof. This means that they’ll stay waterproof forever without any effort on your end.
The wool material that Allbirds utilizes is very comfortable. It’s easy to see why they suggest you wear them sock-free. As it is a wool upper, the Mizzles use a Bio-based shield to provide water resistance. It also offers a bit less protection, and you can often see your feet pushing against the soft fabric.
Vessi shoes can not claim the same sustainable street cred as Allbirds, but they have some strengths. First, they are vegan shoes and do not utilize animal products; obviously, “wool” runners and “wool” dashers are not vegan.
The innovative and straightforward material design allows for a reduced carbon footprint. The manufacturing process is streamlined to the point that they utilize 99% of their material product, which saves huge amounts of waste compared to standard manufacturing processes.
The material also does not need to utilize any chemical coatings for waterproofing. The result is a lifetime waterproof guarantee. The company is also involved in community projects and uses recycled packaging. Neither shoe brand utilizes harmful PFAs that popular brands use in their waterproof materials.
When it comes to sustainability, Allbirds, nail it. They have done an extensive research to track the carbon footprint of each shoe and offset its impact. Then on top of that, they use natural materials instead of oil-based synthetic materials. It includes the wool uppers and EVA sugarcane foam soles in the mizzles.
While they are not vegan, Allbirds line utilizes a wide range of sustainable sources to design their products. It’s easy to see why the company is a certified B-Corporation and strives for high ethical and environmental production standards.
If we’re looking at this purely from a waterproofing perspective, then it’s not a competition. Vessi shoes are a 100% waterproof travel shoe, while Allbirds are water-resistant, thanks to a natural water-resistant coating.
The grip on the soles of both shoes is slip-resistant. However, the Wool Dashers Runners do not grip well on slick surfaces. Vessi sneakers have a specialized grip in the heel and toe, which is impressive at grabbing ice, snow, and water. The additional grip is in the Allbird Wool Dashers, but it’s the only shoe in their line that utilizes the feature.
As we just got our Vessi shoes this year, I can’t comment yet on the shoe’s longevity with Vessi, but they do appear to be well made. At the same time, the Allbirds we own have held up very well with extended trips, where we’ll walk for several miles each day, and have been doing so through our last four years of travel with them.
Wear & Feel
The uppers of both shoes fit like a sock and move with the foot. Once you get your shoelaces correct, you’ll never need to tie the shoes. Vessi shoes are built more like a slip-on with an elastic cuff that grips the ankle. It provides better protection against the elements but could cause chafing, so we like to wear socks.
The soles of both shoes are very comfortable, with plenty of soft cushion underfoot. Allbirds soles are softer, making a lighter shoe, but it means you feel rough surfaces more underfoot.
The insoles of Vessi offer better support for the arch, but I wouldn’t consider either shoe great for those suffering from severe Plantar Fascitis. Though both brands offer removable insoles, people who wear orthotics can also benefit from these shoes.
While Allbirds certainly come with a few pitfalls since it is a soft shoe made with a wool upper, there is clear positive. They are very comfortable, almost like putting on a pair of wool socks, and we both typically wear Allbirds without any socks.
The two shoe companies are comparable in pricing. The Vessi Weekend Sneaker costs $130 ($165 CAD) , and the Vessi Everday Move Sneaker costs $125 ($155 CAD). The Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles cost $135, and the Runner Up Mizzles cost $138.
While the Vessi shoes do cost more on average, their frequent sales often bring the price down to the Allbirds, if not cheaper. Due to customs, Canadian customers will find the Allbirds more expensive by a few dollars. While Canadian consumers ordering Vessis (a Canadian company), will not find the price change as drastic.
|Allbirds Wool Runner Mizzles
|$125 ($170 CAD)
|Vessi Weekend Sneaker
|$130 ($165 CAD)
|Allbirds Wool Dasher Mizzles
|$145 ($195 CAD)
|Vessi Everyday Move Sneaker
|$125 ($155 CAD)
Returns & Exchanges
The return and exchange policy of both companies varies by conditions and location. So please double-check how the policy applies to you before ordering.
- Allows for a 90-day return or exchange policy period. This applies to new and never worn outside sneakers with original packaging, and is free within North America.
- Free shipping within North America (on orders over $80 before taxes and after discounts).
- They have a 365 day warranty that covers manufacturing defects.
- Free 30-day return or exchange policy to make a decision for shoes.
- Their clothing line must include tags and undergarmets are required to be in original packaging.
Quite honestly, we love both shoes! They’re both tremendous and both have their strengths and weaknesses. We may give a slight nudge to Vessi in this comparison in terms of vegan waterproof and water-resistant shoes. Vessi tends to have more fashion-forward designs with reliable comfort. The performance of the Vessi shoes in wet conditions is better with good grip and total waterproofing.
Allbirds tend to be a bit more comfortable due to the soft material. We also love the company’s sustainable ethos, and they have plenty of different styles and fun colors to choose from online. We often find that we can always find a shoe in any color we want! We’ve brought them on many trips and find that they are easy to throw in the washer and wash completely when we get home. Throughout the process, they hold up very well.
We love the Vessi shoes, and it shouldn’t be much of a surprise they’ve gained a cult following. The shoes are super comfortable, provide reliable performance, and look great for travel. There is a good chance we’ll be packing them for our next trip.
The performance and comfort of the two styles from Vessi we tried out were very similar. We spent a whole day in them and have been wearing them around town for everyday errands for a few weeks. I would recommend whatever model fits your personal style best.