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Rainbow Premier Leather Review

A flip flop with a cult following, this model is super comfortable for those willing to put in the time
Rainbow Premier Leather Sandal
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Price:  $54 List | $54.00 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Attractive, comfortable after breaking in
Cons:  Breaking in takes time, poor traction
Manufacturer:   Rainbow
By Sam Piper ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 20, 2020
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#7 of 13
  • Comfort - 25% 8
  • Support and Stability - 20% 6
  • Traction - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 15% 6
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Style - 10% 7

Our Verdict

Talk about a flip flop with a cult following. Just ask anyone loyal to the Rainbow brand, and you will hear rave reviews like, "They're the only flip flop I've worn in the last ten years." The Single Layer Premier Leather is an interesting flip flop and one that you very well may want to check out, especially if you're into cults. All joking aside, for the sake of simplicity, from now on, we will refer to this sandal as just the "Rainbow," as its full title is a bit of a mouthful. This is a simple flop that serves a lot of purposes and does so with style. It requires a bit of breaking in and isn't the most versatile sandal we tested, but the leather look and comfort after the break-in period has a lot of people hooked.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

Rainbow is a company based in Southern California, and its signature flop is designed mainly for the beach-goer and surfer types among us. People that love these sandals really love them, and many refuse to branch out to any other brand. They are stylish and comfortable after the break-in period, and the fact that many people wear them for decades speaks to the excellent durability.

Performance Comparison

The Rainbow Premier is a highly comfortable flip that  no surprise  has a huge following.
The Rainbow Premier is a highly comfortable flip that, no surprise, has a huge following.


The Rainbow flops are notorious for their break-in period, and our experience was no different. Straight out of the box, they barely fit our feet. The thong and straps were so tight that we could barely wiggle our feet into them. But, true to form, after a couple of weeks of wearing them around, the straps loosened, and the footbed began to form to our feet — creating the custom-formed fit that Rainbow is famous for.

Support and Stability

If only the support and stability were actually on par with how popular these flip flops are! While the overall performance isn't that bad, the stability underfoot is on par with significantly less expensive flip flops. The lower arch support doesn't offer the ergonomics our testers need for all day wearability but it is adequate for general use. Once we managed to break these bad boys in they did feel pretty good and seemed to offer more adequate overall stability and support.


Traction is a metric where the Rainbow takes a big hit. Its lightly treaded sole wears quickly and doesn't perform in the mountains 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.

Here we perform our traction test among the non-foam flip flops. The Sanuk  Reef Phantoms  and Rainbow slid down the slab  while the others stuck.
Here we perform our traction test among the non-foam flip flops. The Sanuk, Reef Phantoms, and Rainbow slid down the slab, while the others stuck.


The Rainbow earns an average score for versatility due to their 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. Despite being a leather sandal, these flops also do just fine in the water.


Signs of wear were obvious on the Rainbow after just a few months. We found this curious because so many other people talk about how long their models last. We noticed the tread beginning to wear quickly and concluded that the break-in period seemed to transition to the breakdown period rather rapidly. We asked some friends that have been exclusively wearing Rainbows for more than a decade and found consensus to be that they last about two years with hard use. The silver lining with this issue is that Rainbow has a Repair, Reuse, Recycle program where they will take back shoes at the end of their life, refurbish them, and send them to others in need.

Our Rainbows looked a little beat up after only a few weeks of use.
Our Rainbows looked a little beat up after only a few weeks of use.


One of the things that keeps people coming back to the Rainbow pair after pair is their signature style. The leather look is laid back, and much less pretentious and fancy than other leather models — something many flip flop aficionados love. When asking people what they like about the Rainbow style, one thing we continued to hear is that the little signature tag sewn onto the right thong is pleasing to the eye. Go figure.


These flops aren't the cheapest in our review, but they are far from the most expensive. And, loyal Rainbow users will tell you that they are well worth the money. As we've all come to know, you got to spend some coin to get yourself a quality pair of flops, and the Rainbows are no different.


The Rainbow Single Layer Premier is a classy-yet-understated leather flip that definitely has a huge following. They might be stiff at first but will break in to be one of the most comfortable pairs of sandals you've ever owned. And, if you want even more cushion, you can upgrade to a double layered-sole for not that much more.

Sam Piper