Millions of adults struggle with chronic fecal or urinary incontinence on a daily basis, and as such, there's a wealth of quality products on the market designed to meet consumers' needs.
The most common solution to total bowel or bladder control loss is the brief-style disposable adult diaper. Of all the types of incontinence products out there, these protective undergarments offer the most consistent leakage protection, the highest absorbency and the most security. They generally feature a cloth-like or plastic outer surface, a highly absorbent inner core, leg elastics, and either tape tabs or hook-and-loop fasteners. Our editors found that brief products by Abena, Attends, and Molicare consistently outshine other competitors in this category.
Alternatively, pull-on disposable protective underwear products work like regular undergarments by pulling on and off, and they are meant to offer more dignity and freedom than brief-style diapers. However, they often don't have the capacity or protection to handle severe incontinence.
Disposable incontinence pads, much like female menstrual pads, are designed to be worn inside regular underwear. They are generally not absorbent enough to protect against major bowel incontinence, but they can provide adequate protection against urinary incontinence.
Absorbency booster pads are worn inside a primary diaper for supplementary protection. When they fill to capacity, wetness passes through them and into the host garment, extending the longevity of the main diaper. Many people with severe incontinence rely on booster pads for extra overnight protection.
When it comes to adult incontinence products, the general rule is that high absorbency comes at the cost of discreetness. For the most part, the higher a diaper's capacity, the bulkier it's going to look under clothing. It's almost always a trade-off, although some standout diapers (like the Attends Briefs Waistband Style (Est. $14 for 18 briefs) are slightly less conspicuous than others.
There isn't a lot of informative testing out there on adult diapers, and we based much of our findings on owner reviews and ratings. The best website by far for testing and reviews is XPMedical.com, an online retailer specializing in incontinence products. Owner Gary Evans and a small staff perform exhaustive testing on their products, and their ratings have a good reputation in the online adult diaper community. Their diaper reviews are detailed and specific, and information on each style includes wet and dry measurements, features, results of wetting and rewetting tests, cost per diaper and comments on overall quality and effectiveness.
We chose our best-reviewed diapers based on performance (how well the diaper retains contents, how well it absorbs fluids and how well it protects against leaks), ease of use (comfort, fit, convenience of removal) and odor absorption (whether the product neutralizes odor and how long the protection lasts). Our top picks for disposable briefs, pull-on underwear, incontinence pads and booster pads all received generally favorable reviews by both owners and experts.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Disposable Briefs: What brand of disposable brief offers superior absorbency and performance? Editors survey expert and user reviews to find the best product for adult incontinence.
Best Pull-On Underwear: What's the best pull-on disposable diaper? Editors analyze expert and user reviews to find out. Abena and Tranquility come out on top.
Incontinence Pads and Boosters: What's the best incontinence pad or booster? Editors scour expert advice and user reviews to determine the superior make and model.
Buying Guide: Need some guidance in choosing the best adult diaper for you? Editors lay out your options.
Our Sources: Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top adult diapers, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.