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. These tape-ons or tab-tops are designed much like infant diapers, often with two adhesive tabs (instead of one tab as in infant diapers) positioned for better placement and tighter fit when in use.
Due to their easier application and removal for a caregiver, Tape-on briefs are often the make of choice for the bed-ridden or those in hospice care. Conversely, because tape-on briefs are slightly more cumbersome to put on, individuals purchasing incontinence products for themselves will often default to a pullup diaper (often called disposable underwear).
Based on our own Parentgiving advisors, caregivers, and user reviews, our highest rated and consistently bestselling briefs are the Molicare Super Plus, Tranquility ATN, Abena Abri-Form, the Original Unique Wellness Brief, Tena Stretch Super, and Prevail PM. The best values on a per unit basis would be to purchase a case version of Tranquility ATN (All-thru-the-Nights), Prevail PM, or TENA Stretch Super. The Abena Abri-Flex and the original Unique Wellness Brief carry the largest claimed capacity for absorption of urine.
Choosing between Plastic backed briefs and textile backed briefs is a final question we often field regarding adult briefs. In general, plastic backed briefs leak less, are more secure, stretch and sag less, and are provide a more stable surface for the tabs to adhere. The downside is the plastic backed briefs can crinkle and make noise if the user is up and about. Despite manufacturers' claims about textile backed briefs offering breathability and thus greater skin integrity versus plastic backed briefs, we find those claims to be dubious. Having a lot of absorbent material to wick away urine during overnight periods without periodic changing plays a much greater factor in maintaining skin integrity than does breathability. Finally, our caregiver panel finds plastic backed briefs to offer slightly better odor control versus textile backed briefs.
As fit is the most important consideration for all incontinence briefs, a well-fitting adult brief should address a majority of overnight incontinence, however for some caregivers, the idea of even one nighttime leak leading to additional laundering of bedclothes is too much additional work. As a line of last defense for overworked caregivers, and used in conjunction with a well-fitting super absorbent brief, we strongly advocate using a reusable or disposable mattress pad. Links to our bestselling mattress pads can be found here: