Consider your personal needs. A light pad may provide enough protection for mild stress incontinence, and a standard diaper may work well enough if it's changed after each use. For those with severe incontinence or those who want to use a single diaper for multiple wettings, a premium diaper is the most reliable choice.
Choose a diaper that's compatible with your clothing. Although premium diapers are the most effective, they can also be bulkier. While the increased bulk shouldn't be an issue for those who wear fairly loose clothing, a less absorbent style or a highly absorbent pad worn inside close-fitting underwear will be more discreet under tighter clothing.
Pull-on underwear allows for easy removal. Users say pull-on underwear or pads are far easier to pull up and down than adult briefs, which need to be refastened on each side after a trip to the bathroom. Another option is to place a booster inside a brief and change the booster as needed while leaving the brief in place.
Start with a sample pack. Because of the variation in people's body shapes and lifestyles, experts say there's no incontinence product that works for everyone. Many makers and/or retailers offer small sample packs -- usually two or three diapers -- at a reduced price, so you can try the product before you commit to a larger order.
What about the backing? Adult diapers are available with either a plastic or a cloth-like paper outer shell. Experts say that plastic does a better job containing moisture and odor. However, plastic can sometimes make a crinkling sound when users move about.
Buy the smallest size that fits well, unless you need extra protection. Adult diapers and disposable pull-on underwear come in a range of sizes from extra small to extra-large and beyond. The snugger the fit, the less likely leaks will occur. Larger sizes, however, offer more absorption.
Try new products out at home first. An incontinence product that works well for one person's body shape may be uncomfortable or leaky for someone else. Experts caution that even a top-rated brief, pull-up or pad should be tested in a private setting before being worn out in public.
The cost of adult diapers varies widely based on retailer, quantity and size, so it's difficult to pin down exact numbers. In general, you can expect to spend between 60 cents and $2 per diaper, but buying in bulk can sometimes reduce the price. Another great way to save is to buy booster pads, which are much more affordable, so that the primary garment needs to be changed less often.
On the whole, adult diapers are trending toward a slimmer, more discreet fit. According to an article by the online retailer DiaperBuys.com, "More diapers are beginning to look like underwear and lack the significant padding of previous products. These diapers and briefs still provide the same absorbency and protection but allow for a more discreet appearance." As brands develop increasingly effective chemicals and crystals for liquid absorption, the need for bulky diapers is gradually declining.
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.
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.
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.