As a serial overpacker, I’ve been making a concerted effort to stick to the one-shoe strategy when packing—yet I still find myself throwing in that “just in case” pair (or two) for peace of mind, especially when forecasts call for rainy weather. After lugging around bulky weatherproof shoes on my recent travels, I’ve found one pair that actually makes me want to pack light: the Vessi Weekend Sneaker.
I first noticed Vessi on social media, where I was intrigued by videos of its wearers walking through puddles and dipping their toes into lakes with their feet remaining dry. How could shoes that appeared to be made out of fabric wick away water to the point that the wearers’ socks weren’t wet? It just didn’t seem possible that these Converse-meets-Allbirds-style shoes could do the trick. So of course, I had to try them for myself.
When my Weekend Sneaker—the most sleek (and some would say least sporty) in the Vessi line—arrived, I grew even more skeptical. The breathable knit material was so lightweight and malleable, I doubted they could survive a drizzle, let alone a downpour. On top of that, the triangular-patterned soles seemed too slight to provide any actual treading.
I was quickly proven wrong as I started pounding the pavement in New York City in the late winter. Compared to normal seasonal footwear that was either suffocatingly heavy or so structured it hurt my feet, the Vessi sneakers survived every condition like a pro. They were breathable yet kept my feet warm, and both soft and comfy while still protecting my feet from any moisture.
Soon, I took them on the road—walking over the rough surface of Rome’s cobblestone streets during a particularly rainy stretch of days, no less. The sole structure was surprisingly tough enough to glide over those stones with ease, and even when the surface got slippery, every step felt solid and secure. It turns out that the triangle design is built to be slip-resistant.
A few weeks later, I put them to a different kind of test on a Portland to San Francisco bike tour when heavy downpours hit. Already a shaky and nervous biker, I imagined my feet would be soaked—yet when I took off my shoes, I was dry through and through. Vessi developed a Dyma-Tex layer material that is both breathable and water-sealed—and it does the job using polyurethane, a moldable plastic that is safer than what’s used in most other waterproof products with potentially harmful chemicals.
On top of the magical waterproof powers, the Vessi Weekend Sneaker has an all-purpose silhouette that makes it suitable for many occasions. I’ve paired them with a casual shirt and leggings for a 22,000-step day walking around London, a dress and tights for Broadway and West End shows, and shorts and a tee to explore the caves and sands of Bermuda. On an excursion to Capri, I wore the sneaker on a day that included boat hopping to the Blue Grotto, swimming in the Mediterranean, riding the Anacapri Chair Lift, and some light hiking—in each of those cases, the shoes were the perfect companion.
On top of all of its versatility, the Asian Canadian-owned company, founded in 2018, is dedicated to sustainability, using all vegan materials and monitoring its manufacturing process by reducing its water usage, energy consumption, and material trim.