NOTE: I really would've liked to have the photos for each of the brands embedded neatly beneath the appropriate review, with comparison pictures down at the bottom with the sizing discussion. I just wasn't forum-saavy enough to make that happen. If any mod could make that happen or someone could post some detailed instructions so I can do it, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
A couple weeks back, I placed an order from XP Medical containing a 18-count package of Dry 24/7 diapers as well as their Molicare and Abena sample packs. Over the last week, I've been testing them to the best of my ability, all with the intention of writing a review for all of you here on ADISC. That all said, here it is.
I had a whole pack of Dry 24/7s to work with but only two briefs each for the Abena Supers and X-Plus's and the Molicare Super and Super Plus. To get a decent idea of their performance, I wore the first one of each around the house for a few hours (first dry, then wet) to get a feel for their fit. All the while I was taking notes on their absorbency and features. For the second brief, I would step into the shower briefly using that as a gauge to see which components (tapes, leg gathers, outer plastic) would fail under the extreme pressure of a totally soaked diaper. Some of the briefs impressed me, and others fell by the wayside. I did not choose to try and record any sort of numbers related to absorbency. The XP Medical tests found HERE document that pretty well.
I also took extensive photos of each diaper. Don't worry, no crotch-shots They can all be found in my album here: https://www.adisc.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=965
Molicare Super Air Active
Appearance: Like all Molicare diapers, this one comes in a relatively girly shade of purple. While I don't particularly care for the color, I know there are plenty of others out there who do. In fact, the coloring is probably a blessing in disguise, as it camouflages this diaper's extremely institutional look with the purple stripes and blue text running everywhere over it's outer cover.
Features: Two words: Stretchy Tapes! I don't know why I got the Air Active variant instead of the regular kind, but I am so glad i did. The elastic second-chance tapes on this diaper let you get one of the most comfortable fits of any diaper I've tried. Used correctly across the top of the diaper, the tapes can make up for this diaper's notable lack of a elastic waistband. I would also say that the inner padding is the softest and the outer plastic the smoothest among the diapers I tested.
Performance: I was pretty wildly impressed with this diaper's performance. For using a construction that is very thin and mostly gel based, it easily contained and absorbed a whole afternoon's worth of liquid without even reaching two-thirds full. In my shower test, it swelled to a pretty remarkable size that gave me the impression it could take quite a bit of abuse in regular use.
My Thoughts: This makes for a perfect discreet daytime diaper. It starts thin and stays thin when wet, and the elastic tapes can keep the fit great for hours on end. Only after the extreme duress of the shower did the tapes finally give way. It does make a pretty loud crinkling, but I'm sure that can be masked easily.
Molicare Super Plus
Appearance: Basically the same as the above, but with more of an all-over print due to the larger padding area.
Features: Again, very similar to the above, except for the lack of stretchy tapes. The tapes are again of the second-chance variety and they are quite large as far as tapes go. Their sticking power is incredible though and you probably won't need the second-chance ones unless you're extremely active. The only downside is the lack of a waistband, which can make it feel loose around the waist.
Performance: This diaper packs a good deal more absorbency than it's smaller cousin and could probably handle a near-full day's worth of liquids. It starts quite a bit thicker than the Super, and continues to swell to a pretty impressive size.
My Thoughts: The tapes and leak guards are absolute winners here. I stepped out of the shower and literally could have walked to my room with half a gallon of water sloshing around in my diaper and not dripped on anything. Naturally that requires taping yourself in very securely, but it's worth it for that kind of protection.
Appearance: Much less medical in it's appearance than many others, the Abena briefs sport a racer-style stripe down the middle, with yellow lines that serve as wetness indicators and fade when wet. It bears the M2 moniker, as it is the second level of absorbency in Abena's schema.
Features: A lower-absorbency cousin to the X-Plus, the Abena Super is still relatively thick when you put it on, due to it's construction containing more wood pulp. The second-chance tapes are decent, and the plastic cover is OK. It does have an elastic waistband in back, but it feels cheaply made and rather uncomfortable against the skin.
Performance: Nothing mind-blowing here. It absorbs about as much as you expect for it's size. Because it doesn't swell as much as more gel-based diapers it isn't quite as fun to get all wet.
My Thoughts: Definitely my least-favorite. Putting it on, the inside doesn't feel particularly soft, and the outer plastic felt very… tacky to me. The tapes were also some of the only ones to pop off in my testing, which was very disappointing. On top of that, when wet, the diaper got very… hard and rather uncomfortable to wear. I think most of us would prefer the squishier feeling of wet gel to the hard wood pulp.
Appearance: Ninety-five percent identical to the above Super, except with the text M4 to indicate the highest absorbency.
Features: The yardstick diaper of the community, the X-Plus brings all the standard features you'd expect from a premium diaper. It is quite thick right off the bat when you tape it on, and is comfy for sitting around in. But the tapes continue to be a source of frustration, popping off without warning.
Performance: It seems Abena takes a more brute-force method to absorbency, just make it thick enough and it'll be fine. This makes for a nice thick diaper, but falls off in other places. Sure the diaper has great absorbency, but if you don't have the tapes, leg gathers, leak guards etc to back it up, it's wasted effort. I experienced a pretty massive amount of clumping with this diaper, with most of the padding ending up in the middle after a while wearing it.
My Thoughts: I know the Abena X-Plus is near and dear to many AB/DL's hearts, but at this point in time I feel it's been surpassed, if not in absolute absorbency, by other diapers that are an overall better package.
Appearance: Definitely the most babyish of the reviewed diapers because of it's all-white cover. There is some light blue text in the center, but it's so low down in the crotch you can't see it unless you get out a mirror to look at your backside. Being all-white, it is a prime opportunity to use pamperchu's method for adding enlarged baby prints.
Features: What doesn't this diaper have?!? It has the thickest padding I've seen when you put it on, and it swells to be the thickest diaper I've ever heard of. It strikes the perfect balance between the amount of pulp and gel, becoming comfortably squishy without clumping down in the crotch. The padding inside is especially soft, especially if properly fluffed. The outer plastic is strong and thick, yet impossibly smooth. The tapes are half the size all the others I've seen, yet somehow have the best sticking power. I was only able to make one come off after literally running up and down the stairs in one that was already half-soaked.
Performance: Phenomenal off-the-charts performance from this diaper. I've gone through 10 of these now, and I really can't fathom anyone being able to fill one up in anything less than 48 hrs. The level of absorbency is just ridiculous. My only gripe is that once the diaper is more than half-full, it struggles to wick the moisture away from the skin, leaving you feeling perpetually wet "down there." All the other diapers managed to still feel dry, even when soaked far beyond their capacity.
My Thoughts: My absolute favorite diaper for the time being. With it's amazing level of thickness and babyish all-white cover this is one of two diapers (with Bambino being the other) that are absolutely ideal for AB/DL play.
A Word on Sizing:
We get a lot of threads on here asking about the sizing of various diapers when people are looking to buy for the first time. At first I thought it was just a case of people not checking the sizing themselves, but now I can understand why people ask. According to XP Medical's sizing chart, with 35 in. hips I fall right in the middle of the Dry24/7, Abena and Molicare medium size. But in actuality there are substantial differences in sizing. In the album I posted, there is a comparison pic with a Abena X-Plus on top of a Molicare Super Plus on top of a Dry 24/7. I'm supposed to fit comfortably in all three of these diapers when they're vastly different sizes? I don't think so. While the Abena's and Molicares fit pretty well despite the difference, I felt like I was swimming in the Dry 24/7. I just made that comparison pic so that hopefully people down the road who are familiar with one brand will be able to use that picture to get an idea how the same size in another brand will fit.
After all that, I really only have two recommendations:
For the best discreet daytime protection, with the best fit and absorbancy:
The Molicare Super Active Air
For the best AB/DL thickness and babyish looks:
The Dry 24/7
Thank you all for reading (or skimming) and I hope you found these reviews helpful.