Most reviewers agree that traditional adult diapers, also known as disposable briefs, are the best choice for extended use or severe urinary or fecal incontinence. Users say that, while they can be awkward to put on and take off (and difficult to change in a public washroom), adult briefs offer the most secure protection and the most customizable fit.
The key criteria to a good adult diaper is a satisfactory blend of absorbency and comfort. Top products are also easy to put on and take off. Among adult diapers, the Molicare Super Plus (Est. $25 for a pack of 14) does a good job of covering all those considerations.
Even though its initial capacity of 30 ounces is less than that of some other adult diapers, the Molicare Super Plus has an excellent wicking distance of 18 inches, allowing fluid to spread throughout the entirety of the padding, according to laboratory testing by retailer XPMedical.com. This capability is all thanks to the diaper's unique paper and gel construction. The reviewer at IncontinenceSupport.info rates its comfort while either dry or wet as Very Good, the top grade there. That reviewer does have an issue with their fit, however, noting that they are snugger than their sizing indicates. This could be an issue for larger wearers, though an extra-large size that was not available at the time the review was written is now available.
For those with severe incontinence, the Dry Care ConfiDry 24/7 (Est. $45 for a pack of 18) outperforms most other models in absorbency tests -- a whopping 91 ounces of initial capacity in the tests at XPMedical.com. However, feedback reveals a couple of issues worth mentioning. Although the hands-on review at IncontinenceSupport.info says that these adult briefs has "the best tapes of any diaper I have EVER used," several of the handful of users reporting in at Amazon.com find their adhesive to be inadequate. The other complaint is that they are quite bulky. That's not an issue for dealing with problems overnight; user reviewers say that these adult diapers are ideal for extended wear of 8 to 10 hours, while IncontinenceSupport.info says that they can "go a full 12 hours without a problem," though that's not recommended. But that bulk can be an issue for day use by those that are self-conscious.
We also saw some good feedback for NorthShore Supreme Briefs (Est. $25 for a pack of 15). These are the house brand of adult diapers from NorthShore Care Supply, an online distributor of incontinence products. User reviews are limited, but we did see more than 100 at NorthShore's website and a handful at Amazon.com, and most are very complimentary. It's also the top-rated adult diaper at IncontinenceSupport.info, and the first product to earn top scores across the board. If there's an issue, it's that there's a little bit of a process to get the most effective leak prevention -- something that annoyed some users. Still, IncontinenceSupport.info calls that minor, saying, "This is not at all a complicated process and pretty much involves just stretching the diaper out to make them stand up."
All three products are premium diapers, and all are a little on the costly side. They can also be tougher to find in local stores -- though they're available online through Amazon.com and elsewhere.
The Attends Extended Wear Brief (Est. $40 for a pack of 36) is less costly adult diaper and may be easier to find in local stores. It boasts an initial capacity of 54 ounces, according to XP Medical. Users concerned about discretion will enjoy the product's cloth-like covering, which allows for quiet, comfortable movement. However, discretion comes at the cost of performance; the briefs don't possess standing leak guards, which can be a problem for side-sleepers or active users.
If discretion is your upmost concern, expert reviewers say that Attends makes the best briefs for wearing discreetly under close-fitting pants. Attends Briefs Waistband Style (Est. $20 for a pack of 36) are a "long-standing favorite where discreetness and comfort are priorities," says XPMedical.com. The close fit comes with reduced capacity, though: XP Medical says testing revealed the diapers to have a 14-ounce initial capacity, which is decidedly below the absorbency levels of every other adult diaper that the site tests. In addition, user reviews are mixed, with poor absorbency being the source of some negative feedback.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Adult Diapers: There are many types and brands of incontinence products to choose from. These are the options, and the ones that owners and experts say are tops.
Best Pull-On Underwear: For mild incontinence issues, pull-on underwear provides protection while preserving a little more freedom. Incontinence pads can provide some extra protection as well.
Buying Guide: Not sure where to start to find the right incontinence product for you or a loved one? These pointers can help make shopping easier.
Our Sources: These are the user and expert reviews we relied on to find the best adult diapers and other incontinence products. They are ranked in the order of their helpfulness.