The original, plastic backed Abena X-Plus has long been a popular premium diaper and a favorite among AB/DLs. Recently, Abena has begun phasing out its plastic-backed line in favor of Air Plus diapers, which feature a cloth-like cover. In Europe, the Air Plus X-Plus has replaced the original X-Plus in all sizes. In the North American market, both the original X-Plus and the Air Plus X-Plus are available in sizes M, L, and XL. Sizes S and XS are available only in the Air Plus line.
Here, I will review the Abena Premium Air-Plus X-Plus in size medium (M4), purchased in May 2013 in the United States from XP Medical. The advertised sizing for the Abena Air Plus line is as follows:
X-Small (Youth): 20"-26" waist/hips
Small: 24"-31" waist/hips
Medium: 28"-43" waist/hips
Large: 39"-59" waist/hips
X-Large: 43"-67" waist/hips
Appearance, Size, and Features
Like the original X-Plus, the Abena Air Plus X-Plus features a distinctive pattern in the center of the diaper. In the Air Plus, the pattern includes the Air Plus logo, the Abri-Form name, and the size (M4). The font and style are lighter compared to the original X-Plus.
The diaper includes two yellow wetness indicators. There is no distinct landing area for tapes. The lot number is stamped in faint black ink on the back of the diaper.
Front and Back of Folded Diaper
To measure the diaper's thickness, I placed a heavy book on top of a stack of three Air Plus X-Plus diapers. The three diapers measured 9.5 cm (3.75 in) in total, so a single diaper is 3.2 cm (1.25 in) thick when dry and folded.
Three Diapers Stacked
For comparison, I placed a book of equal size on top of a stack of three original Abena X-Plus diapers. The original X-Plus diapers were exactly the same thickness as the Air Plus X-Plus.
Dry Thickness of Air Plus X-Plus (Left) and Original X-Plus (Right)
The Air Plus X-Plus has the same double-tape design as the original X-Plus. Each taping position has a pair of tapes, one blue and one white. If the blue tapes come undone, they can be pulled off, and the white tape is available as a backup. The white tapes can also be used to help fold up and dispose of a used diaper.
As this photo shows, the cloth-like cover of the diaper is very thin. In the wings, where there is no other material, the cloth-like material is almost translucent.
Wing and Tapes
Like the original Abena X-Plus, the Air Plus X-Plus features leak guards that run the length of the diaper. There is no elastic in the waist.
The dimensions of the Air Plus M4 are comparable to the dimensions of the original M4. Its length outstretched is 77 cm (30 in). It is 64 cm (25 in) wide at the wings and 29 cm (11 in) wide in the center.
Front and Back of Unfolded Diaper
Performance and Fit
The fit of the diaper was good. I have a 36" waist, and I found that the tapes just reached the part of the diaper that has padding underneath. I suspect that most people who are on the border between a size M and a size L would be happier with the larger size.
I ran two tests of the diaper's performance. The first was a test of the diaper's capacity under controlled conditions. I put on a diaper and poured 100 mL of water down the front at a time. After each pouring, I sat in a chair for 30 seconds and then checked for leaks.
I had to redo the tapes twice during the test because the diaper sagged a lot. After the first 1000 mL, I had to re-do the top front tapes, replacing the blue tapes with the white back-ups, to get a good fit. I re-did the bottom tapes after I had poured in 1900 mL. My chair stayed dry until I had poured a total of 2300mL of water down the front. After the 23rd pouring, I noticed a very small wet spot on the chair. After I added another 100mL, a few more small wet spots appeared. At this point, I stopped the test.
The sides of the diaper seemed to stretch from the weight of the water. Near the end of the test, it felt as if the diaper might slide down my hips and fall off of my body. I also noticed that the front right tape kept coming undone. This could be a result of my pulling on the front of the diaper to pour water in. The tapes do seem somewhat less secure than the tapes on most plastic-backed diapers.
After the controlled wetting test was over, I took the diaper off and folded it up. It measured 11 cm (4.25 in) thick. A fully soaked X-Plus is more than three times thicker than a dry one.
Dry Diaper Next to Wet Diaper After Quantitative Test
I then put on another diaper and wore it for my normal activities. The diaper lasted for six hours and forty-five minutes. I decided to take off the diaper when I noticed a tiny wet spot on my chair. I had wet the diaper three times. I would describe the first wetting as a flood and the other two as moderate.
I did not find the diaper noticeably more or less comfortable than a plastic-backed diaper. Despite the cloth-like cover, my diaper area did feel a bit warm, as it usually does while wearing a diaper.
There were some small problems with odor control. On a couple of occasions, I noticed a urine smell, either right after wetting or when leaning forward in my chair. I don't usually notice any odor when I wet plastic-backed diapers.
I also noticed a problem with sagging after this test was over. I had been wearing the diaper under shorts. As soon as I removed my shorts, the diaper sagged way down onto my hips. I had tried to tape the diaper more tightly this time, but the cloth-like cover had stretched out, making the diaper sag a lot when not supported by pants.
After this test was over, I did two more supplementary tests. First, I put on another diaper and went for a two-mile walk, keeping the diaper dry throughout. Compared with my experiences out walking while wearing plastic-backed diapers, including the original plastic-backed X-Plus, my diaper area got less warm. The breathable outer cover does appear to have a benefit, as long as the diaper stays dry. I also noticed a slight chafing sensation on my thighs as I walked. I do not ordinarily feel this sensation when walking while diapered.
As a final test, I tried wearing an Air Plus diaper overnight. When I woke up in the middle of the night at about 4 AM, I wet the diaper and went back to sleep. When I woke up again at 7 AM, the diaper had not leaked onto the bed, but the smell of urine was overpowering. By contrast, I have often worn original X-Plus diapers to bed, and though they occasionally leak, I generally do not notice a strong odor on waking up after wetting.
Price and Final Thoughts
I purchased a single 14 diaper bag of Air Plus from XP Medical for $22.95 plus $8.59 for shipping and handling. This works out to a total price of $31.54, or $2.25 per diaper. These diapers are significantly cheaper if purchased by the case. A case of 56 Abena X-Plus Air Plus in size medium is available from XP Medical for $85.95 with free shipping, or $1.53 per diaper. By comparison, a case of 42 original, plastic-backed Abena X-Plus currently sells for $59.95 at XP Medical, or $1.43 per diaper.
The Abena Premium Air Plus X-Plus offers the same excellent absorbency and the same convenient double-tape system as the original, plastic-backed Abena X-Plus. Is the breathable cover worth an extra ten cents per diaper? For AB/DLs who want a noisy diaper, of course the answer is no. Because of their tendency to sag, Air Plus diapers are also a poor choice for anyone who plans to wear a diaper without pants, such as when lounging in a t-shirt and a diaper.
For those who are looking for a diaper that is highly absorbent but discreet, the question is more complex. The Abena Air Plus X-Plus is definitely quieter than the original X-Plus. It is not completely silent, but it is close to it. The breathable cover makes it somewhat less effective at odor control, however. For those who may have to stay in a wet diaper for more than a short time, as many users of highly absorbent diapers presumably do, the original, plastic-backed X-Plus may be the more discreet choice.
In terms of comfort, the breathable cover prevents the diaper from becoming uncomfortably warm while it is dry. Once the diaper is wet, the breathable cover no longer helps to keep the diaper cool. I found that the Air Plus chafes more than a plastic-backed diaper while walking, but some other AB/DLs have found that plastic-backed diapers chafe more than diapers with cloth-like covers. Whether the Air Plus X-Plus is more comfortable than the original is very much a matter of taste.