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Rainbow Premier Leather Review

After break-in, these cult classic flip flops offer excellent comfort and classic styling
Rainbow Premier Leather
Photo: Rainbow
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $54 List | $54.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Attractive, comfortable, affordable
Cons:  Breaking in takes time, poor traction
Manufacturer:   Rainbow
By Brian Martin and Matt Bento  ⋅  Oct 18, 2021
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Support - 20% 7
  • Traction - 20% 7
  • Versatility - 15% 7
  • Style - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Rainbow Premier Leather are fantastic flip flops and truly only get better with age. That's not to say these aren't comfortable out of the box, but they genuinely shine a few months in. If you've been sucked into the Rainbow cult vortex, you're likely interested in these flips for more than just the comfort; they have a unique but familiar style. They seem unique but also remind us of simpler times with their sandwiched layers of EVA foam and soft leather footbed. If you're on the hunt for a stylish, comfortable, and long-lasting flip flop but don't want to drop a car payment on your footwear, these are a great option.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price $54.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
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$22 List
$21.99 at Amazon
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Pros Attractive, comfortable, affordableComfortable, durable, good in waterComfortable, versatile, stylish, great arch supportComfortable, light, good in wet conditions, great support, affordableBargain basement price, relatively comfortable, good in wet conditions
Cons Breaking in takes time, poor tractionHeavy, a bit priceyHeavy, expensiveNot as soft or breathable as leatherLow arch, not suitable for hiking
Bottom Line After break-in, these cult classic flip flops offer excellent comfort and classic stylingThese flip flops are made for the ocean but are capable in any environmentThese versatile flops are so comfortable they feel as if they were tailor-made for our feetThese feel like classic Birkenstocks but are entirely synthetic, perfect for wet conditions and vegansThese offer decent comfort and overall usability that far exceeds typical bargain basement flip flops
Rating Categories Rainbow Premier Lea... Olukai Hokua Olukai Ohana Birkenstock Arizona... NeedBo NDB
Comfort (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Support (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
Traction (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
6.0
Versatility (15%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Style (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
5.0
Specs Rainbow Premier Lea... Olukai Hokua Olukai Ohana Birkenstock Arizona... NeedBo NDB
Sole Material Non-slip rainbow bottom Gum rubber Gum rubber EVA Rubber
Footbed Material Nubuck leather ICEVA ICEVA EVA EVA
Strap Material Nubuck leather Leather Synthetic EVA EVA
Weight (per pair) 13.1 oz 19 oz 17 oz 9.3 oz 10.5 oz
Available Sizes Small - XXXL 7 - 15 7 - 18 6-6.5 - 13-13.5 6.5-17
Animal Products? Yes Yes No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Rainbow is a company based in Southern California, and its signature flop is designed mainly for the beachgoer and surfer types among us. People that love these sandals really love them, and many refuse to branch out to any other brand. They feature a classic finished leather footbed, a comfy, unobtrusive nylon toe piece, and a double-stitched leather strap. They are stylish and comfortable after the break-in period, and the fact that many people wear them for decades speaks to their excellent durability.

Performance Comparison


Comfortable, good-looking, and versatile enough to go from the...
Comfortable, good-looking, and versatile enough to go from the backyard party to your next beach vacay. Just go ahead and get a pair or read on if you need more convincing.
Photo: Brian Martin

Comfort


The Rainbow flops are notorious for their break-in period, and our experience was no different. Straight out of the box, they aren't uncomfortable, though they are just a bit awkward. The footbed is completely flat, and the straps tend to lay flat, too, so you can't just slide your feet in right away. It's worth noting that you should pay careful attention to Rainbow's fit guide, as they are available in size ranges rather than individual sizes. For reference, a men's medium (8.5-9.5) fit our size 9.5 tester perfectly. They don't feel too small on the upper end of the range, but we suggest trying on multiple sizes if you're a size 10 or an 8.5 and you have the opportunity.


The comfort after break-in can't be overstated. These flip flops are supremely comfortable, and that initial awkwardness is necessary to let your foot do the work of molding them to what you specifically need. A few months of testing in, and these rarely left our feet. The leather footbed is ultra-smooth and perfectly shapes to the foot. Our feet practically cry for the smooth, cool footbed surface when we're limping home after a long day of work or a big hike in stuffy boots.

Enough support and structure to shield your feet from below and an...
Enough support and structure to shield your feet from below and an ultra-comfortable footbed make the Rainbow a very comfortable flip flop (once they're broken in).
Photo: Brian Martin

Support


While a few of our testers find the ergonomics of the Rainbow to be perfectly adequate, some feel that the arch support is a bit lacking. Objectively, when compared to some other flip flops in this review, the arch support is quite a bit less substantial and pliable. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, considering everyone's feet are significantly different. We would say, if you require substantial arch support or feel that is something you want out of the box, then Rainbow might not be the best choice.


The arch does develop over time as the pressure points break-in, and our main tester found these to be among the most comfortable he has tested. However, these may leave you feeling sore after a long day standing on a concrete floor, so if your job allows you the luxury of wearing flip flops or you find yourself wandering the streets of some foreign city for miles, seeking out a more supportive model is advisable. Rainbow does also offer a double-thick sole if you know you want more cushion underfoot.

Out of the box, they're fairly rigid but once they have molded to...
Out of the box, they're fairly rigid but once they have molded to your feet they offer excellent arch support.
Photo: Brian Martin

Traction


Traction is a metric where the Rainbow takes a big hit. Its lightly treaded sole wears quickly and doesn't perform on steeper, loose terrain as well as some of the others in our fleet.


We slid around on steep dirt trails, and the tread material did not want to stick to the bare granite slabs that many of us, as outdoor adventure-lovers, find ourselves walking around on. That said, these flip flops are perfectly adequate for the everyday beachgoer and offer some decent wet surface traction to boot.

If you are looking for a flip flop that has solid trail hiking...
If you are looking for a flip flop that has solid trail hiking capability, the Rainbow might not be the best choice. That being said, the traction is perfectly adequate for most flip-flop-appropriate activities.
Photo: Brian Martin

Versatility


The Rainbow doesn't earn the highest score for versatility due to its lack of performance on rocky trails and bare rock. That aside, they perform well in most other situations, such as trips to the beach and the bar, barbeques, and social occasions. However, they may not be the best option for dressing up and pushing the social acceptance of flip flops at high-brow occasions, as they ooze a casual, relaxing vibe.


Despite being a leather sandal, these flops also do just fine in the water, and because you won't need to sell a kidney on the black market to afford them, you can really put them through their paces and just replace them a few years down the road. The comfort, style, and durability are all factors that boost the overall versatility of these flip flops as they are just as home at a social gathering as they are standing around the bike shop talking about biking. Additionally, they're fairly lightweight and less noticeable when stuffed inside a backpack or suitcase than heavier, more supportive models.

Aside from our traction gripes, the overall versatility is quite...
Aside from our traction gripes, the overall versatility is quite good. From chilling by the river to your next backyard wedding, these will get you through in style and comfort.
Photo: Brian Martin

Style


One thing that keeps people coming back to the Rainbow pair after pair is their signature style. Like a classic car restored with modern conveniences, Rainbow's pair old guard styling with new-age comfort and design know-how. The result is a uniquely stylish flip flop that actually retains a lot of comfort and versatility.


These flips reflect the cool and casual vibe of the surf culture from which they originate. We can't really recommend them enough, and the styling is just icing on the beautifully sandwiched EVA foam cake.

A picture is worth at least several hundred words. These flip flops...
A picture is worth at least several hundred words. These flip flops look good even on our model, sasquatch.
Photo: Brian Martin

Value


These flops aren't the cheapest in our review, but they are far from the most expensive. They seem to last forever for the modest price point and truly only become more comfortable and form-fitted over time. Indeed, we've had a hard time conjuring up reasons as to why the Rainbow wouldn't be a good value. Style, durability, and comfort in an affordable package. They are significantly more expensive than a pair of cheapo flops you'd buy to keep from getting foot fungus at a public shower, but their overall quality reflects this. Thow in the durability factor and these comfy kicks are an easy choice for one of our coveted awards.

Conclusion


The Rainbow Premier Leather flips are stylish as heck, pairing classic sandwiched foam with a beautiful leather footbed and thong. It's truly no wonder why they have such a cult following, and the price of admission to the Rainbow cult is fairly palatable. If you're tired of cheap flip flops that keep falling apart but don't want to shell out a ton of money for humanity's oldest and most basic type of footwear, we encourage you to grab a pair of these.

While you would probably struggle to find traction heading up the...
While you would probably struggle to find traction heading up the slopes of Mt. Doom, you would look pretty dang good while doing it, even with those hairy Hobbit feet.
Photo: Brian Martin

Brian Martin and Matt Bento

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