Abena's Abri-Form X-Plus, commonly referred to as Abena S4/M4/L4, is their top of the line diaper and a stalwart in the category of "premium" adult diapers. Abena has recently phased out its plastic-backed line of this product in Europe in favor of selling only its cloth-backed Abri-Form line, but continues to offer the plastic-backed version in the medium and large sizes in North America.
I am reviewing the medium size plastic-backed Abri-Form X-Plus (M4), as purchased in December 2012. The medium size is listed as fitting waists of 28"-43" and the large size (L4) is listed as fitting 39"-59".
Appearance, Size, and Features
The Abri-Form X-Plus has a distinct pattern along its center, which notes the M4 size and model. It has two yellow wetness indicators which run the length of the diaper, which turn blue when the diaper is wet. There is no distinct landing zone panel for the tapes. Both sides of the folded diaper look identical.
Front and Back of Folded Diaper, Respectively
To test their dry thickness, I stacked three diapers on top of each other and placed a heavy book on top of them, and measured their height. Together, the 3 diapers had a height of approximately 10.5 cm (4.1 in). Thus, the dry thickness of a single folded diaper is 3.5 cm (1.4 in).
3 Diapers Stacked
One particularly impressive feature of this diaper is the unique tape design. Abena Abri-Forms have double tapes with a bottom blue tape and a white top tape. If the blue tape either becomes undone or you mess up placement of the tape the first time, you can simply peel the white tape off and use it to re-tape the diaper. It also makes it easy to tape up the diaper for disposal after use. The diaper uses the standard 4-tape design used for most adult diapers.
The outside of the diaper uses a relatively thin-feeling and soft plastic cover. It does not crinkle particularly loudly as the diaper is unfolded. The inside of the diaper is all white and the padding is arranged in an hourglass shape. The padding is very soft and compressed, even by the standards of diapers. It has a smooth, slightly oily feel to it. The diaper has standing leak guards. There is an elastic waistband in the back, but not the front.
Front and Back of Unfolded Diaper
With the diaper outstretched, it measures 77 cm (30.5 in) in length, 62 cm (24.5 in) in width at the wings, 28 cm (11 in) in width at the center, and 18 cm (7 in) in width between the leak guards.
Performance and Fit
To test the capacity of this diaper quantitatively, I ran a test to simulate use. I put a diaper on and then repeatedly poured water into the front of it in 100 mL increments and sitting down in a chair for 30 seconds each time to give the diaper a chance to absorb the liquid, pace the process, and see if it would leak when sitting. After 1700 mL of water, I noticed wetness around the leg cuffs. At 2000 mL of water, the diaper began to leak on my chair, and I ended the test.
I then took off the full diaper and folded it back up to compare its thickness to a dry diaper. It had expanded to roughly 6.5 cm, almost twice its original thickness.
Dry Diaper Next to Full Diaper After Quantitative Test
I then put on a fresh diaper and wore it while going about ordinary activities. The diaper lasted a total of 6.5 hours, during which time I had about 3 larger wettings and some minor wettings, but did not flood it.
With a 36" waist, I am in the center of the listed size range and found the medium size fit me very well. I would be surprised if this size would be a good fit for the upper and lower ends of the very broad listed range. The top of the diaper feels like it comes up high enough to cover everything without being really tall, somewhere around average among diapers that I have tried.
The tapes stuck very well, despite the fact that I tend to tape diapers very tightly. In general, I've found that the M4 tapes, once placed, almost never move even if the diaper is overly tight, and instead are actually more likely to fail by altogether ripping off from the wing. Having only one elastic waistband in the back actually works very well at keeping the front flush with the body since the tapes don't shift and the diaper does not loosen.
The plastic is very muted, especially under clothing. There is always audible crinkling with any plastic-backed diaper, but the M4 has a lot less of it than other diapers that I have tried. This plastic backing clearly seems to have been chosen with discretion in mind.
Price and Final Thoughts
I purchased these diapers from XPMedical at 59.95 USD for a case of 42, including shipping to the contiguous United States. This comes to $1.42/diaper, a typical price for high-end, "premium" adult diapers. One could certainly save money per unit capacity by opting for a diaper in a lesser weight class, with Abena's own similar Super (M2/L2) and Extra (M3/L3) diapers being excellent examples, but among high-capacity diapers, the M4 clocks in towards the lower end of the price range.
The Abena Abri-Form X-Plus stands as perhaps the benchmark diaper among top of the line, "premium" adult diapers. Its capacity is one of the highest on the market and is about as high, in my experience, as a diaper can reliably go without starting to have problems with sagging enough under its wet weight that the leak guards fail. Between the double tapes, the soft feel, good fit, and low noise, this diaper leaves an impression as being an all-around well-thought-out and effective design.