Pull-on disposable underwear styles, also known as pull-ups, look similar to adult briefs without the tape or Velcro fasteners. Reviewers say pull-on styles are easy to put on or remove, making them much more convenient to use and a good choice for those who sometimes, or usually, are able to use the bathroom instead of relying on a diaper. Some say pull-ups also offer more dignity and freedom than brief-style diapers, as they're closer to normal underwear. On the other hand, although manufacturers often rate their pull-on underwear to be as absorbent as full adult briefs, most reviewers disagree.
We found a number of well-regarded choices among pull-on underwear. XPMedical.com doesn't do the same types of test of disposable underwear as it does for adult diapers, but it describes Abena Abri-Flex Air Plus Pull-Ons (Est. $20 for a pack of 14) as "perhaps the finest pull-up available anywhere," saying the high elastic thread count and elasticized crotch contribute to a good fit with less chance of leaking. User reviews are strong as well. At Amazon.com, nearly 50 users contribute to a 4.3-star rating for the medium size, 14 pack version, and other sizes/packaging score as high or higher. Regardless of the size, comfort and absorbency are widely praised.
Unless pull-on underwear fits snugly enough to contain leaks, even the most absorbent core will be ineffective. While Abena uses an elasticized crotch to deal with this issue with good to great results with the Abri-Flex, some manufacturers choose to outfit their pull-ups with inner leg cuffs instead (basically the diaper extends an inch or so down the leg to prevent leaks). Attends Super Plus Absorbency Protective Underwear (Est. $35 for 60 pairs), is among the brands with this option. XPMedical.com notes that they are discreet for wear under clothing, and they have tear-away panels for easy removal. User feedback is limited, however, though fairly positive -- earning ratings averaging around 4-plus stars scattered among the different sizes and packaging options offered at Amazon.com. Most call them effective for their price. One caveat is to make sure to select the Super Plus version as standard Depends underwear lack the leg cuff feature.
Tranquility is another brand that uses inner leg cuffs to contain leaks, and if you need maximum absorbency for overnight use, Tranquility Premium Overnight Underwear (Est. $55 for a pack of 64) looks like a top choice. Tranquility underwear comes in a range of sizes, from X-small to XXL-plus, and the larger sizes (medium and above) are rated for a 34-ounce capacity, though we've not seen that independently verified. Regardless, user feedback indicates that this brand of disposable underwear delivers what it promises.
User reviews for Tranquility Premium Overnight Underwear are ample and highly positive. We spotted more than 300 at Amazon.com for the various sizes, and it earns a rating of 4.6 stars -- with most granting it a perfect 5-stars. Some reviewers that rate the underwear lower say it wasn't as absorbent as they hoped, but these are in the distinct minority. Other low-ratings revolved around ordering issues and the like. Tranquility Overnight also winds up in the top of the charts at online retailers that sell them, though often without terrific supporting documentation. Be that as it may, sites like MagicMedical.com, rate them as best in terms of absorbency and offer them their recommendation.
For those with milder incontinence issues, or for daytime use, Tranquility also offers a lighter weight product, Tranquility Premium DayTime Pull-On Underwear (Est. $15 for 18 pairs). These are exactly like the Overnight version, notes retailer NationalIncontinence.com, but in a thinner, less absorbent version. It's rated for a capacity of 25-ounces, but, again, we've not seen that verified in testing. User reviews are far less plentiful than for Tranquility Overnight, but no less positive -- typically 4.5 stars or better over the various sizes and packaging options offered at Amazon.com. Speaking of sizes, Tranquility Premium DayTime Disposable Underwear is not available in smaller sizes, just medium to XXL-plus.
Not everyone dealing with incontinence needs to wear pull-on disposable underwear, let alone full adult diapers. For minor issues, incontinence pads, which can be worn with either specialty underwear or snug-fitting regular underwear, could be all you need.
Among these products, we saw some good feedback for Abena's Abri-San Premium line of incontinence pads, which comes in a wide variety of sizes and capacities for different needs. At the small end of the scale, the Abri-San Premium 1 (Est. $14 for a pack of 56) holds just 6.7 ounces, while the largest Abri-San Premium 11 provides more than 114 ounces of absorption. The mid-sized Abena Abri-San Premium 5, also known as the Abena Abri-San Premium Midi, splits the difference, absorbing up to 40 ounces. According to XPMedical.com, the Midi is "incredibly discreet under clothing," while the somewhat larger Abena Abri-San Premium 7 (Est. $25 for a pack of 30), also known as the Super, "provides nearly the same protection as a full brief, without the hassle of tapes."
Incontinence pads are also available from many of the same makers that produce adult diapers and briefs. If you are looking for a brand that can be purchased from most local retailers, incontinence pads from names like Depend and Attends may be a consideration. However, feedback indicates that those with moderate to severe incontinence are better off using a premium pad such as one from Abena, especially if it is appropriately sized to best deal with the user's needs. The range of discreetness and absorbency levels available across the Abena Abri-San Premium line of pads make it an easy choice as our Best Reviewed incontinence pad.
For those who need even more protection than standard disposable diapers or underwear can deliver, incontinence boosters should be a consideration. Boosters are like incontinence pads, but without the absorbent backing. Rather than being used on their own, they are designed to be used with a disposable brief or pull-up for maximum absorbency.
According to The New Diaper Primer on IncontinentSupport.org, the best booster is the Tranquility's TopLiner Booster Pad (Est. $30 for a pack of 100). These booster pads increase the absorbency of your adult diaper or pull-up underwear. Capacities from just under 6 ounces to just over 14 ounces are available. They are designed to fill first, making it possible to get though a day or night without having to change the primary garment.
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 Disposable Briefs: Disposable briefs -- also known as adult diapers -- are the most popular type of incontinence product. These are the ones that rate best according to users and experts.
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.