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Comparing a Vancouver-based waterproof sneaker brand to my usual rain boots.
Until a few weeks ago, I considered myself a Hunter boots loyalist. Hunter’s Chelsea boots have always been my go-to shoe for Vancouver’s rainy season for two reasons: they’re totally waterproof, and they also have a sleek silhouette that most waterproof boots lack (I’m looking at you, Blundstones).
But I’ve found that over the years, my Hunter boots are wearing down faster and faster. The pair I got for Christmas in 2021 have already cracked open, so I only got about four month’s wear out of them. The rubber is rainproof, for sure, but it’s obviously only effective if it’s not cracked. I was pretty devastated that my Hunter boots had failed me so quickly.
So it was truly in a moment of weakness that Vessi reached out—like vultures, hearing the dying wail of my Hunter boots—and announced that they were launching a new line of Chelsea boots. It’s the first boot style that the Vancouver-based waterproof sneaker company has made. They were offering media samples. I’m sorry, Hunter. It’s not you… well, actually, it is you.
Hunter’s Chelsea boots are rubber all around, while Vessis have a rubber sole only (the rest is the rainproof knit material). The Vessis are quite a bit lighter than the Hunter boots.
Vessi’s Chelsea boots have a cushioned sole that’s super comfortable—like walking on a marshmallow. Hunter’s Chelsea boots have a more typical sole: it’s not super pillowy, but still definitely comfy. And because of the materials, the Vessis are more flexible than the Hunter boots—Vessi’s waterproof knit fabric is stretchy, while Hunter’s 100% rubber boots are more structured.
When it comes to the overall look, Hunter still wins it for me. Hunter’s rain boots are more slender than Vessi’s, and the silhouette is sleeker—the Hunter boots are more versatile, while Vessi’s really do look like sneakers. Both boots look great, but the monochromatic Hunters are more elevated, and Vessis are more casual.
I found both boots to be 100% waterproof. That was a given in Hunter’s rubber boots, but it was surprising to me that Vessi’s really did walk the talk (yes, I have seen a million Instagram ads celebrating Vessi’s rainproof-ness, but it’s hard to believe until you try it yourself).
That in mind, my Hunter boots are now cracked, so they’re not very waterproof anymore. I can’t predict what the Vessis will be like after four months of wear, but I doubt that the knit fabric could crack the same way that rubber can.
Hunter’s Chelsea boots are $180. Vessi’s are $175 regular price—they’re on sale now for $166.
Okay, Vessi: I’m a believer. The Weekend Chelsea boot wasn’t my first pick, style-wise, but when it comes to function, this shoe punches about its (very light) weight. Hunter, you were my first love, and there will always be a special place in my heart for you. But these local boots are serious competition (if that’s a cliche, shoe-next-door trope, too bad).