The New Balance Rainier makes the subject of our review section today as we were able to get a pair on sale this past week. This is a hiking boot that was first introduced in 1982. It was designed by Lou Whittaker following a trip on mountain Rainier in which he suffered an accident, thus inspiring him to build a better option for hikers. The Rainier re-surfaced briefly in 2016 in a modified version and again in 2022 in a collaboration with Aime Leon Dore, the same fashion house that revived the New Balance 550 and 650 models a couple of years prior. While equipped with new technology like Gore Tex and Vibram the design stayed true to its roots. After this collaboration New Balance released several colorways in which they used Cordura fabric instead of the Gore-Tex, being able this way to lower its price to $150. Despite the high quality materials and cool looks there haven’t been a lot of hype around these so many models went on sale in 2023.

How They Fit

It was one of these pairs in “Glazed Ginger” that we were able to get this summer, a great time to get deals on boots. As you take these out of the box you’ll notice the quality of craftsmanship and materials on this model. Once you get to see them up close you understand better why New Balance is trying to charge so much for these. On foot they run a bit large like most boots do and they are a bit narrow. Folks with a bit wider feet will need to stay true to size and break these in for a few days. If you are not sure about your size you can check out the New Balance size chart here.

New Balance Rainier review front

New Balance Boots3


The upper of the New Balance Rainier is made of a high quality leather and Cordura fabric. The leather has a nice coating on it that makes it look luxurious but also adds some protection against wet conditions. The Cordura fabric is well known for its durability and resistance to wear, yet it is not waterproof like the Gore-Tex. To be on a safe side adding a waterproof spray on these would be best. The lacing system features the D shaped rings that are standard for most boots and from our experience while doing this New Balance Rainier review they do a decent job in providing a good lockdown and they do not come undone easily. The heel area is a bit elevated which makes these a mid cut boot. There is no rubbing against the back of the foot due to an excellent design and also a smooth leather that hugs the padding in that area.

Are New Balance Rainier waterproof?

The New Balance Rainier are now waterproof. The leather that makes up for the most of the upper is very high quality and it is inherently waterproof. However the cordura fabric it is not. So if this is your concern is best to purchase a waterproof spray that will  surely help.

Sole Unit 

The sole unit of the New Balance Rainier is pretty simple , very close to what it was in 1982. It features the classic EVA midsole foam that we’ve seen at classics like the 574 or Reebok Classic. As we know this type of midsole provides basic cushioning and it’s not too soft which in the case of a hiking shoe is not a bad thing. However the arch support is quite limited, especially if you spend all day in these, whether on the trails or in town. New Balance added the Vibram outsole which is known for its advanced comfort, durability and traction. The outsole lugs are pretty aggressive and surely these boots do not lack traction. The high profile of the boots however, combined with the way the sole unit is constructed takes away from the stability of the shoe, its biggest weakness along with the retail price. 

New Balance Boots1

New Balance Boots2

Bottom Line 

To conclude our New Balance Rainier review, these are some really nice hiking boots that can easily fall in the sneaker boots category. They are excellent for casual use in the city and they still do a great job on the trails while keeping you in style. The $150 price tag is quite high given that there is not much hype around these and they lack true waterproof features. The good news is that they can be found nowadays at a much lower price which in many cases is a bargain for what you get. These boots are very fashionable and they’re ,made to last for a good while. If not convinced, another models that come close to these and even excels in hiking are the Timberland Mt. Maddsen ,The Euro Hiker or the White Ledge boots, all certainly worth checking out. Or, if you want some cheaper alternative, the Timberland Graydon is one to look at.