Recently, there has been a lot of concerns brought up about plastic backed diapers.
While it may be true that plastic backing will not be around for ever, most manufacturers still offer plastic backing in some form.
There has also been bad news from Abena. The plastic backed "Comfort Line" was slated for extinction 1/1/12. Thanks to many concerned customers, that was not the case. Unfortunately, around that time, the quality of the "Comfort Line" was also noticeably worse.
There was some speculation that this was a strategic move from Abena to switch people to the cloth backed "Air Plus". However, I did a little digging, and it turns out this was actually due to a switch of machines, and possibly raw material suppliers.
The lower quality Abena's could be easily identified by the black Manufacturing Code on the back, but what was the problems with them?
1) For one, the plastic backing was noticeably different. It was noisier, and thinner.
2) The leak guards would fall apart after just a few hours if they got any sorts of lotions on them.
3) The padding itself was thinner, and fell apart pretty easily. This affected the flooding capacity a bit also.
4) The tapes were not as sticky, and on a few, fell off. There were also some that pulled off the wings.
These were made from sometime in November on.
So, recently, I received some new M4's, dated 2/16/12, and what a pleasant surprise, none of those issues were present at all...
The first noticeable aspect was the tapes, they're much stronger.
The plastic was still mostly the same, but I think it's quieter.
There is also a noticeable smell of them, not bad, but different. The few I've tested seem to contain smells pretty well, though. The November/December M4's weren't as good, certainly.
Another aspect that was clearly better was what Abena calls "Top Dry". With the November/December M4's, after a wetting or so, you did feel "wet". With these 2/16/12 M4's, "Top Dry" works amazingly well! The few I've tried were on the verge of leaking before it started to feel wet on the skin. Up to that point, it felt partially damp, even though almost all of the padding was almost completely soaked. This is what sets Abena apart from other diapers like Secures/Bambinos(which make your bottom half feel like it's in a swimming pool).
Probably the worst thing about the M4's was the leak guards. They would fall apart very easily with any type of lotion. On these 2/16's, however, the leak guards have been 100% solid so far, even after a full night and several more hours (12+ total). That would simply not be possible for the November/December M4's with lotion.
A nice surprise was absorbency. It seems to be 15-20% better. Wicking is also very good. Using the padding across the entire back of a 2/16 M4 before leaking a drop is entirely possible.
So, there we are. These newer M4's (at least the one's I've just received) are amazing. They are just like the M4's from early/mid 2011. They are the quality that Abena is known for. Hopefully, this is what we can expect from them from now until the current Comfort Line is, in fact, discontinued. If it is, I'll be extremely happy, and if any of you were unhappy with the recent M4's, I would say give them another shot.
I must say, I was worried that the M4 that I knew and loved was going to live out its remaining life in a shadow of its former glory, but it looks like it's back to the way it used to be...