Why I travel confidently with just one pair of shoes: My Vessi Weekend Sneakers

As a series overpacker, I’ve struggled to stick to the one-shoe strategy when packing—but I still find myself throwing in that “just in case” pair (or two) for peace of mind, especially for forecasts call in rainy weather. After lugging around clunky weatherproof shoes on my recent travels, I’ve found a pair that really makes me pack light: the Vessi Weekend sneaker.

I first noticed Vessi on social media, where I was fascinated by videos of its wearers walking through puddles and dipping their toes in lakes with dry feet. How could shoes that appeared to be made of fabric soak up water enough that the wearer’s socks were no longer wet? It just didn’t seem possible that these Converse-meets-Allbirds shoes could do the trick. So of course I had to try them myself.

When my weekend sneaker—the most stylish (and some would say least sporty) of the Vessi line—arrived, I became even more skeptical. The breathable knit fabric was so light and malleable I doubted they would survive a drizzle let alone a downpour. Additionally, the triangle patterned soles seemed too thin to allow for actual kicking.

I was quickly proven wrong when I started banging on the sidewalk in New York City in late winter. Compared to regular seasonal shoes that were either stiflingly heavy or textured so they hurt my feet, the Vessi sneakers weathered every condition like a pro. They were breathable and kept my feet warm, soft and comfortable while still protecting my feet from moisture.

I was soon taking them to the streets – walking the rough surface of Rome’s cobblestone streets during a particularly rainy spell, no less. The sole structure was surprisingly sturdy enough to glide effortlessly over those rocks, and even when the surface got slippery every step felt solid and secure. It turns out that the triangle design is built to be non-slip.

A few weeks later I put them to another test on a bike ride from Portland to San Francisco when heavy downpours hit. Already a shaky and nervous biker, I imagined my feet were soaked – but when I took off my shoes, I was thoroughly dry. Vessi created a Dyma-Tex layering material that’s both breathable and water-resistant—and it does the work with polyurethane, a malleable plastic that’s safer than what’s used in most other waterproof products with potentially harmful chemicals.

In addition to the magical waterproof powers, the Vessi Weekend sneaker has an all-purpose silhouette that makes it suitable for many occasions. I paired them with a casual shirt and leggings for a day of 22,000 steps in London, a dress and tights for Broadway and West End shows, and shorts and a t-shirt for exploring the caves and sandy beaches of Bermuda. On a trip to Capri, I wore the sneaker on a day where I took the boat to the Blue Grotto, swam in the Mediterranean, rode the Anacapri chairlift and went for easy hikes – in each of these cases the shoes were the perfect companion.

In addition to all its versatility, the Asian-Canadian-owned company, founded in 2018, is dedicated to sustainability, using only vegan materials and overseeing its manufacturing process by reducing water consumption, energy consumption and material consumption.

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