Last updated: July 13th, 2023
I’ve now been testing out my Vessi shoes for one year and my Allbirds for about three years. This article is updated periodically with my first-hand experience with these shoes as I continue to wear them regularly.
Find out which brand of comfortable, sustainable footwear wins out when you compare Vessi vs Allbirds shoes.
As sustainable practices and tech innovations gain popularity, there’s an increasing number of shoe brands that use eco-friendly and inventive materials. Two such companies are Allbirds and Vessi.
When you look at Vessi shoes vs Allbirds shoes, you’ll find that these two shoe companies have a lot in common but aren’t identical.
Allbirds prioritizes comfort, their carbon footprint, and shoes that don’t require socks. Vessi’s primary focus is making a waterproof sneaker.
However, both companies began as startups, focus on sustainable practices, and have ties to the tech industry.
Once you’ve decided to invest in a new pair of shoes with a sustainable, high-tech focus, it can be challenging to determine which is best.
I’ve experienced both of these shoe brands firsthand, and I’m here to offer my insight on which might be the better company. But first, let’s take a closer look at each one.
Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.
Table of Contents
Overview of Vessi Shoes
Vessi’s headquarters are in Vancouver. Its founders are Mikaella Go, Tony Yu, and Andy Wang.
Go and Yu are both romantic and business partners and had a previous history of successfully launching companies through crowdfunding, which is how they went about launching Vessi.
After two Kickstarter campaigns that raised over two million dollars, the three-person team launched the company.
Vessi markets itself as the world’s first waterproof knit sneakers. They consider themselves a tech company and a sneaker company that focuses on sustainability.
Vessi’s manufacturing processes save 880 gallons of water per pair, producing almost no waste.
Their goal was to create waterproof sneakers, as an alternative to rubber boots, that you can wear daily and complement any outfit.
They do this with a proprietary material called Dyma-tex, and all their shoes use this material for the upper.
Vessi sneakers are available for men, women, and kids. They’re very snug and stretchy, but they don’t come in half sizes.
Vessi recommends sizing up for a looser fit or down for a more snug one. Vessi soles all have lots of traction to prevent slipping in rainy weather.
Main Features of Vessi Shoes
All the shoes that Vessi makes use their proprietary dyma-tex material.
Dyma-tex is a breathable knit with microscopic holes that are too small for water molecules to pass through but large enough for vapor to escape. All Vessi sneakers are not just water-resistant; they’re waterproof.
Vessi also uses animal-free, sustainable materials with very little waste.
While the sole traction has some variance between Vessi styles, they all feature sturdy patterns on the bottom soles, which offer good traction and slip resistance.
Despite being sturdy with substantial soles, Vessi sneakers are all also exceedingly lightweight. This makes them a good choice for travelers because they won’t add too much weight to your luggage.
Lastly, Vessi prioritizes comfort for all of its shoe styles. All Vessi waterproof shoes have a cushioned insole and a supportive design, which offer decent arch support.
Vessi Shoe Styles
Vessi Everyday Classic Sneaker
The Everday Classic is Vessi’s original shoe. The Vessi Everday Sneaker is a sporty and comfortable shoe with a stretchy and breathable knit outer that’s completely waterproof.
They’re lightweight with a cushioned insole. While not built for heavy running, design-wise, the Everyday Sneaker resembles running shoes.
If you’re looking for Vessi shoes that are the most like Allbirds Tree Runners, these waterproof sneakers are the most comparable.
Read our complete review of the Everday Classic sneaker.
Vessi Everyday Move
The Everyday Move sneakers are a Vessi style for people with an active lifestyle.
They resemble the classic Vessi Everyday Sneaker but have more breathability and support. Plus, the Everyday Move shoes are available in a broader range of colors than the classic variety.
Vessi Cityscape Sneaker
The Vessi Cityscape sneaker is a third style of sporty Vessi shoes that are great for walking.
They’re aesthetically similar to the Classic design but with a lighter and sleeker profile, and they also have a removable and washable anti-odor layer.
Vessi Everyday Move Slip-On
The Vessi Everyday Move Slip-On takes the Everday Move sneakers and eliminates the laces, making a stretchy shoe that’s easy to slip on and off.
Like every Vessi design, it’s completely waterproof. This shoe has a sporty style and fits snugly around your foot. It comes in black along with several limited-edition, heathered colors.
Vessi Weekend Sneaker
The Vessi Weekend sneaker is slightly different from Vessi’s original sporty style.
Rather than an athletic shoe design, the Vessi Weekend sneakers have a more casual lace-up design. It’s similar to a skateboard shoe but with the same waterproof materials as every pair of Vessis.
Stylewise, the Vessi Weekend Sneaker is somewhat reminiscent of Allbirds Wool Pipers.
In addition to classic colors like black, grey, white, and brown, Vessi Weekend sneakers come in three limited-edition pastel colors.
Vessi Sunday Slipper
The Sunday Slipper is a cozy-soled slipper that Vessi designed for lounging around the house and transitioning to quick errands.
These Vessi shoes eliminate the struggle of getting your slippers wet if you run out to get the mail in the rain. Allbirds has a similar style of shoe, called the Allbirds Wool Lounger.
Vessi Weekend Chelsea
Like the Vessi Weekend sneakers, the Weekend Chelsea offers an alternative to the athletic shoe look.
The Weekend Chelsea is a waterproof hybrid between a sneaker and a Chelsea boot. It has a knit outer, vegan leather accents, and a sneaker-style rubber sole.
These would be great shoes for anyone who lives in cold, wintery climates but loves the feel of a sneaker.
Who are Vessi Shoes for?
Vessi shoes are great for people in wet climates because they work for daily wear but keep your feet dry in the rain.
For me, rain boots tend to collect dust in my closet because I’m usually on autopilot in the morning and don’t realize it’s raining until I’m out the door.
If Vessi’s are your go-to shoe, you’ll never have to remember to wear your rain boots–Vessi will have you covered no matter what.
Vessi Everyday sneakers are also a good choice for travelers because their low weight makes them packable. Plus, their supportive design makes them suitable for long days of exploring a new place.
Looking for more waterproof options? Read our guide to the best waterproof walking shoes for women.
Overview of Allbirds Shoes
Allbirds’ founder, New Zealander Tim Brown, set out to make a shoe from merino wool. Like Vessi, Allbirds started with a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014.
After that, Brown teamed up with his co-founder, Joey Zwilliger, and they engineered the first Allbirds shoe, officially launching in 2016.
Today, Allbirds has its headquarters in San Francisco, where the shoe brand is a favorite among young professionals and tech workers.
They make many different shoe styles using merino wool, eucalyptus fiber material, castor bean oil, recycled plastic, and foam derived from sugar canes.
Their original shoes were the Allbirds Wool Runners, but from there, they’ve branched out into numerous other styles.
One of the most impressive things about Allbirds is their commitment to sustainability. Allbirds is a certified B-corp, meaning they’ve passed stringent criteria to prove their utmost eco-friendliness.
In addition to using only naturally derived, renewable, and recycled materials, they use numerous carbon offsets to ensure they leave no carbon footprint, which funds visionary initiatives all over the globe.
Main Features of Allbirds
Allbirds uses a variety of sustainable and natural materials for their shoes. Most of their sneakers feature either a wool or eucalyptus fiber outer shell.
Not all Allbirds are waterproof; only some wool styles have a water-resistant coating.
Nearly all variations of Allbirds sneakers feature laces made of recycled polyester from plastic water bottles and a sole that uses carbon-negative green EVA “Sweetfoam,” derived from sugarcane.
They also have removable insoles that combine castor bean oil and merino wool, and many also incorporate recycled nylon.
Allbirds Shoe Styles
At this point, Allbirds makes shoes in an extensive list of styles–too many to list them all individually, but these are the stars of the Allbirds lineup.
Allbirds Wool Mizzles
Allbirds Mizzles are water-resistant sneakers, and because of that, they’re the most similar to any Vessi style.
There are several variations of the Mizzle, but unlike some of Allbirds’ other styles, the Allbirds Mizzles are all wool–there are no “Tree Mizzles.”
Merino wool has natural water-repelling properties. Allbirds draws on that and combines it with a bio-based water-repellent shield to keep your feet dry in the rain.
The Runner-Up Mizzles are everyday walking shoes available in the classic material or as “Fluffs”, which are fleece-lined for extra cozy warmth. The Dasher Mizzle-Mid is a running shoe with a sock-like knit collar for added cold protection.
Allbirds Trail Runners SWT
Allbirds Trail Runners are multipurpose shoes best for–you guessed it–trail running! They’re also suitable for walking and hiking.
Trail runners use eucalyptus fiber knit and merino wool for the best of both worlds: they’re breathable, cozy, and water-resistant, making them comparable to the Vessi Everyday Move sneakers.
They feature a cushioned sweet foam midsole and natural rubber outsole that provides premium traction.
Many Allbirds styles come in two variations: “Tree” and “Wool.”
The styles with “Tree” in their name use eucalyptus fiber materials that are naturally moisture-wicking and odor-controlling.
The wool sneakers use merino wool, which also has odor and moisture-controlling properties, plus some natural water-repellence.
The tree material is cooler and better for warmer weather, while the wool is warmer and better for colder weather, but they’re both thermoregulating.
Contrary to what the name suggests, this classic Allbirds style isn’t a running shoe. They’re best for walking and daily wear and are comparable to the classic Vessi Everyday sneakers, although the Vessi’s are the better waterproof shoe.
The Tree Runners have a more open, textured knit with better ventilation and are best for summery weather. The Merino wool runners are warmer with a tight, smooth knit and work best in the cold.
These ultra-comfortable shoes are suitable for casual walks and running errands, or simply keeping your feet warm while lounging around the house.
Read our detailed review of the Allbirds Wool Loungers.
Allbirds Tree Dashers
The Tree Dasher 2 is an improved running shoe with responsive foam for extra cushioning, superior grip and traction, and an advanced fit.
The Tree Dasher Relay is a laceless slip-on that uses leftover stock yarn for added sustainability. Both shoes use Allbirds’ breezy eucalyptus fiber knit.
Read our complete review of the Allbirds Tree Dashers.
Allbirds Pipers are also available in both tree and wool varieties.
The Piper is a casual sneaker meant for everyday wear. It has a decidedly less sporty aesthetic than some of Allbirds’ bestselling styles, with an embroidered collar that gives it a look similar to Vans.
The Vessi equivalent to the Piper is the Vessi Weekend Sneaker, although the Piper has a low-top design and lacks Vessi’s extensive waterproofing.
Allbirds Tree Flyers
Allbirds Tree Flyers are the newest shoes from Allbirds–they’re high-performance, long-distance running shoes.
The Tree Flyer shoes use eucalyptus fiber for the outer and a brand new, proprietary material called “Swiftfoam” for the midsole. Swiftfoam uses castor bean oil to produce a super bouncy cushion that’s great for runners.
Thanks to these bio-based materials and laces that use recycled plastic bottles, it’s an entirely carbon-neutral shoe.
These running shoes have a thicker heel for extra support and a super sporty look and are available for both men and women.
Allbirds Tree Breezers
A feminine ballet flat, the Allbirds Tree Breezer is available in women’s sizes.
It uses breezy eucalyptus fiber knit and is machine washable like most Allbirds styles. The Tree Breezers’ lightweight construction means they’re excellent travel shoes.
Read our complete review of the Allbirds Tree Breezers.
Allbirds Tree Skippers
Like the Pipers, the Allbirds Tree Skippers are a casual everyday sneaker without an athletic aesthetic.
Compared to the Pipers, the Skippers are slimmer and smaller and look very similar to Keds. Unlike the Pipers’ six holes, they only have two lace holes on each side.
The Allbirds Tree Skipper is super lightweight and breathable thanks to its eucalyptus fiber knit. They’re perfect for hot, summery days. And, thanks to carbon offsets, they’re entirely carbon neutral.
Who are Allbirds Shoes for?
Allbirds’ classic sneakers are a favorite for tech workers, but Allbirds makes so many different shoes, there’s truly something for everyone.
The runners and dashers suit sportier aesthetics, while the Pipers and Loungers are best for casual wear.
In general, Allbirds are very comfortable sneakers and are great for the eco-conscious consumer.
Looking for more wool shoe options? Read our guide to the best wool shoes.
Comparing Vessi and Allbirds Shoes
Based on my and my editor’s reviews of these styles and research into the other variations, I’ll compare the two companies in detail.
Comfort & Fit
Both brands boast a comfortable fit. When you compare Vessi vs Allbirds for nurses, travelers, athletes, or service workers, they’re both solid choices that offer good support.
Vessi doesn’t offer a half size for any of their styles, while select styles of Allbirds are only available in whole sizes.
While my Vessi Everyday shoes feel pretty comfortable, my Allbirds Loungers are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned (and the same can be said by my editor about the runners).
And in general, the Allbirds Mizzles and Runners have a reputation for being extremely comfortable shoes that keeps your feet warm. The hype is very much true!
Another crucial point is that thanks to breathable, moisture-wicking, odor-controlling materials, you don’t have to wear socks with Allbirds.
Vessi’s purport to be breathable shoes, but I found that not be the case with my Vessi Everday Classics.
While they may have been breathable compared to a pair of rubber rain boots, they still left my feet pretty sweaty, and going sockless in them felt like a mistake.
So, overall, Allbirds wins out in the Comfort and Fit category.
Design, Style & Versatility
We all have individual tastes, and what’s stylish to one person won’t be for the next.
Personally, I gravitate more towards casual shoes with a less sporty aesthetic, and both brands offer a range of athletic styles alongside more casual designs.
With that said, Allbirds carries more options than Vessi. Although, style-wise, their designs are somewhat similar.
However, it feels like Vessi prioritizes function over form a bit more. I find the Vessi Everyday Sneaker a bit clunky, while Allbirds simply has more varied styles to choose from.
Durability, Functionality & Quality
Both Allbirds and Vessi shoes are reasonably durable. They both have some consumer reviews that claim they wear out quickly, but many report them to be long-lasting.
My Allbirds Wool Loungers are still going very strong after six months (although I mostly wear them around the house and don’t do a ton of heavy walking in them).
My editor still wears her Allbirds Runners after two years of regular wear and says they’re in great shape. She’s also still going strong with her Dashers and Tree Breezers, which she’s had for over six months now.
I haven’t had my Vessi’s for very long, but they feel pretty sturdy.
In terms of durability, the two companies are at a tie for me, but what about functionality? What about waterproofing?
When you look at the Allbirds Mizzle vs Vessi shoes, you’ll notice that Mizzles are just water-repellent, not waterproof.
Vessi shoes, on the other hand, will entirely repel water, even when partially submerged. You won’t get wet socks if water doesn’t breach the top and get inside.
With that said, I wore my Vessi shoes while kayaking and water got inside them. Once soaked, they took over two days to air dry, which seemed quite long for a pair of sneakers.
My Allbirds Wool Loungers don’t have the waterproof coating that the Allbirds Mizzles do, but I’ve worn them for casual walks in light rain.
The wool repels water naturally, and my feet stay dry inside of them. Only after a long walk did wetness begin to soak through the toe.
Based on that experience, I expect that the Allbirds Mizzles have pretty robust wetness protection.
Ultimately, I feel that Vessi and Allbirds tie in this category.
Comparing Allbirds sneakers vs Vessi in the Sustainability category reveals an obvious winner.
Both companies put sustainable practices as one of their top concerns.
Vessi uses all vegan materials and partners with factories with good track records for sustainable practices. Their manufacturing process saves a lot of water and produces virtually no waste.
While all of that is admirable, Allbirds knocks Vessi out of the water when it comes to sustainability.
Every single material they use in their shoes is innovative, naturally derived, and eco-friendly.
While Merino wool is an animal product, it’s cruelty-free and renewable. They use recycled plastic water bottles for their laces, and the sugarcane foam in their soles is not just carbon neutral, it’s carbon-negative.
On top of that, Allbirds is a certified B-Corporation. This shoe company has passed through an extensive list of qualifications that show they go above and beyond to eliminate their carbon footprint.
Allbirds also funds initiatives that offset their energy consumption. These projects work to reverse climate change and give opportunities for people to support themselves while saving the earth.
I also really like that, Allbirds has a trade-in program. If you miss the return window or a new color comes out, trade in your lightly used Allbirds for a $20 credit toward your next shoe purchase.
The gently used shoes and brand-new shoes with minor flaws are sold through the Allbirds’ ReRun program, which helps keeps shoes out of landfills. Genius, right?
So, while they’re both eco-friendly companies, Allbirds is the shoe brand that takes the lead in sustainability.
Number of Options
Allbirds has been around for several years longer than Vessi, so they’ve had more time to add to their collection.
Vessi has six different shoe designs, while Allbirds carries about 25 different types of shoes for women and 22 for men. And between all these style options, there are many different colors.
Additionally, none of Vessi’s shoes come in half sizes, while a good chunk of Allbirds shoes come in half-size styles.
Allbirds easily wins this category, thanks to the extensive range of styles they carry.
Both Allbirds and Vessi are expensive shoes, with most styles exceeding $100. Some Alllbirds styles are more expensive than any from Vessi.
But when you compare the Vessi Everyday Classic Sneakers with its Allbirds equivalent, the Wool Runner Mizzles, the Allbirds are about $20 cheaper.
While the two brands are almost neck-and-neck, I also have to give the title to Allbirds on this one. Numbers don’t lie.
Conclusion: Allbirds vs Vessi Shoes – Which One is Better?
When you look at the breakdown comparing Vessi footwear vs Allbirds, Allbirds wins almost every category hands-down.
This will be no surprise if you read through my previous Vessi Everyday Classic waterproof sneakers review. I wasn’t a big fan of those Vessi shoes.
However, I want to be fair in saying that as a waterproof shoe with decent arch support, the Vessi Everday sneaker performs well.
It’s exceptionally water-resistant as long as you don’t completely submerge it, and it’s also a comfortable and supportive walking shoe.
I had two main issues with my Vessi sneakers. First, they took an extremely long time to air dry when they did get wet. And second, the Vessi Everyday sneaker made my feet sweaty, even with socks.
I also don’t feel like they’re the most stylish shoes, although I think that’s more a matter of personal taste, and I’ve found outfits that I like them with.
On the other hand, I’ve had an outstanding experience with my Allbirds Wool Loungers from day one, and I even find that they’re reasonably water-resistant.
And my editor has had a similar positive experience with four other Allbirds shoe styles.
Lastly, when I look at Allbirds as a company–from how they approach natural materials and energy consumption to the sheer number of available options–it’s clear that they beat out Vessi Footwear overall.
Vessi Footwear is a much newer company, and it’s possible that in time their sustainability efforts and style variety will catch up to Allbirds. But for now, they aren’t there yet.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elina Ansary is a writer, visual artist, and avid traveler. She grew up in San Francisco, CA, and spent her childhood camping up and down Northern California. These days, she visits artist residencies around the world and has lived in Amsterdam, Australia, and now Brooklyn, NY.
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