Whether your feet stay dry depends what you are walking in, how deep it is and for how long. Even if the rubber itself is waterproof, your feet can still get wet via the welt or upper, and possibly even the exposed stitching of some rubber soles like Dainite. Still, I'd say there's less chance of wet feet with rubber.
There is no consensus in relation to these important questions. We've had the input of a respected bootmaker, a respected retailer and several customers. In general, you won't catch me deliberately heading out into wet conditions with leather soles, and not often for long walks in the dry, either. However, there are some people still doing it. Another factor we have to deal with is a reluctance to say anything positive about rubber soles among purists.
Member Crane's (another retailer) wrote that no boot should be taken into rough, wet conditions until it has been treated with products like Filson Boot Oil, Obenauf Leather Oil / Heavy Duty LP, Lexol Leather Conditioner, Atsko Sno Seal (beeswax, white sprit), etc. I don't know what the experts here think about that, but it was reported that leather soled boots could withstand ankle-deep water and mud after thorough (and ongoing periodical) treatment to the upper, welt and soles, with no leakage, and that it helped preserve the leather, bearing in mind that the boots concerned were Wolverine 1000 Mile - nice, but not formal enough to wear in the office. http://www.styleforum.net/t/205531/wolverine-721ltd-shell-cordovan-1000-mile-boot-review/15#post_3732081
I'm about to start experimenting with those relatively inexpensive products myself, using surplus footwear and I was also going to try it on a pair of Ammunition Boots pattern B5 from William Lennon, which I believe are Blake/Rapid-stitched, with a vegetable-tanned double leather sole and oiled rough-out kip leather upper. Like the Wolverine 1000 Mile, they are rough Derby work boots, not for the city and therefore probably not what most people exploring the rubber v. leather question would be thinking of.
and if so whether it will then last as long as a high-quality rubber or dainite while doing so.
It has been claimed on AAAC that Dainite lasts three times longer than standard grade double leather soles.
On the other hand, it has also been claimed by others that Dainite lasts no longer than leather. While I find that hard to believe for either dry or wet conditions, it goes to show how much our mileage varies. Perhaps the comparison was between Dainite and oak or chestnut bark-tanned leather soles, which should last much longer than standard grade leather (and have even been claimed to last longer than Dainite - see above).
The number of boots with Barker or JR soles out there getting deliberately beaten up in nasty weather would be rather small. Leather soles can survive occasional soakings but, let's not bullshit ourselves here - it's not exactly good for them. I'm not really prepared to sacrifice mine just to find out how resilient they are - not when water runs straight off rubber without swelling or shredding - but if someone else here is, please post photographs and share your story.
i have never in my life experienced foot odor or fungus or anything (knock on wood), so this is not my greatest concern.
I'm going to get some more experience wearing the various types of sole and intend to revisit questions like those posted above. For the record, my next few boot orders will specify leather soles - I already have enough rubber. Oh, and since I'm only a customer who wears boots, my opinions might only be worth a fraction of an expert's.
Edited by nh10222 - 10/29/13 at 7:08am