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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:  Take a while to break in, poor traction
Manufacturer:   Rainbow
By Sam Piper ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 22, 2017
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#8 of 14
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Versatility - 25% 6
  • Durability - 25% 7
  • Style - 10% 8
  • Traction - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Rainbow, talk about a flip flop with a cult following. Just ask anyone loyal to the brand and you will hear rave reviews, "They're the only flip flop I've worn in the last ten years." The Rainbow Sandals Premier Leather Single Layer 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 during this review we will refer to this sandal as the Rainbow, as its full title is a bit of a mouthful. The Rainbow is a simple flop that serves a lot of purposes and does so with style. They require a bit of breaking in and aren't the most versatile sandal we tested but their leather look and comfort after the break in period has a lot of people hooked. If you're interested in a comfortable leather sandal with a different stylish look, take a peek at the OluKai Hiapo.

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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 Rainbows love Rainbows, and many refuse to branch out to any other brand. Check out the full review below to see our take.

Performance Comparison

The Rainbow flop excels in some categories and pulls only average scores in others. It's stylish and comfortable after the break-in period and people rave about their durability.

Pictured here is the Rainbow Premier  which scored an 8 out of 10 for comfort.
Pictured here is the Rainbow Premier, which scored an 8 out of 10 for comfort.


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. The only other leather flop we tested, the OluKai Hiapo was largely the same, and they took time to break in. If you're interested in a casual-wear flop that feels soft and plush straight from the box, consider the Reef Phantom.


The Rainbows earned 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, BBQs, and social occasions. Despite being a leather sandal, these flops did just fine in the water and earned a score of 6 out of 10 for versatility. Our testing revealed that the OluKai Ohana, Chaco Flip, and Reef Fanning were the most versatile, as well as the three top scorers overall.


We were only able to test the Rainbows over the course of a few months, but we already started to see signs of wear during that time. 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 quickly. 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. If durability is your ticket, Chaco Flip Ecotread is the most durable flop in our test group - although the Flip is not leather, it has similar characteristics.

Testing Rainbows  looking a little beat up after only a few weeks of use
Testing Rainbows, looking a little beat up after only a few weeks of use


One of the things that keep people coming back to the Rainbows pair after the pair is their signature style. The leather look is laid back with the Rainbow, and is much less pretentious and fancy than the OluKai Hiapo - and that is something that 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 Rainbow tag sewn onto the right thong is pleasing to the eye. Go figure.

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.


Traction is a metric where the Rainbow took 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 we, as climbers, find ourselves walking around on; in addition, the sole began to wear so thin that it was easy to feel sharp rocks. Top scorers in the traction metric include the top three suspects, the OluKai Ohana, Chaco Flip, and Reef Fanning, as well as the Teva Pajaro.

Best Application

In our humble opinion, the Rainbow model is a perfect flop for those that want a leather look and feel in an understated, simple package. These sandals will carry you everywhere and do it well in most places. Heading out to beaches, BBQs, and as casual wear are the situations we found this contender to excel in. If you're hoping to get extreme while wearing only a pair of flops, whether it be in the river or in the mountains, these may not be the perfect pair for you. For a more active flop, we'd recommend our award winners.


At $54 dollars, these flops are by no means the cheapest in the 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 is unique to the review in that it is one of the only leather sandals we tested and definitely has one of the biggest followings. These flops might be stiff at first but will break in to be one of the most comfortable pairs of sandals you've ever owned.

Sam Piper