Absorbency Comparison: BG Elemental, GroVia AIO, Bottombumpers OS & Simplex OS

After I published my review comparing Bum Genius Elemental, GroVia, Bottombumpers and Simplex One-Size All In Ones, I thought it would be interesting to see how they compared to each other in terms of absorbency!   I started writing this review several months ago, but then we began our international move and had some health problems with our daughter, so it got put on the back burner for quite a while.  

I don’t know if my methods are the most scientific, but I did my best to control the variables and conduct my little absorbecy experiment in a consistent manner.  This little experiment does not account for compression.

METHOD TO MY MADNESS
The trick to finding the absorbency of an AIO is that only the absorbent inner ought to count toward the overall absorbtion (duh!)–obviously weighing it dry and then dunking it in water just wouldn’t suffice :)   All diapers were freshly stripped at the same time, so build-up would (hopefully not be a factor).
Here’s what I did:
1).  Covered my table with tissue paper.  This would serve to alert me when the diaper started wicking/leaking.  Put a notecard and pen on the table to record the results.
2).  Laid the diapers on the table, PUL side down and absorbent side up.
3).  Grabbed a baby bottle that had ounce measurements and filled it up with water to the 9 oz.  mark.
4).  Poured 9 oz. of water on each diaper, distributing it evenly across the insert.
5).  Let the diaper sit for five minutes.
6).  Check the tissue for wet spots.  I did this to check for wicking.  If it wicked, the tissue paper would immediately show a wet spot.  If there were no wet spots, then I held the diaper by the back with the front over the tissue paper, counted to ten to see if it would drip off the bottom (checking the saturation).
7).  If there were no wet spots, I added another ounce and waited again.  I did this until there were wet spots on the tissue.
8).  Then, I put the wet diapers in the washer, started the spin cycle, dried them and started the whole process again.  I felt that it was important to control the variables by using the exact same diaper each time, so each diaper was tested 3 times.

The Results

Bottombumpers:  The first time, Bottombumpers absorbed 10 oz and then began wicking at the crotch when the 11th oz was poured on.  The second time, it absorbed 10 oz before wicking and the third time, it started wicking at 9 oz.  This gives it an average of  9.6 oz.  I need to repeat the test on Bottombumpers a few more times until I get consistent results.  However, the one thing that was consisted was that the location of the wicking was the same every time–at the crotch where the PUL rolls into the lining of the diaper.  The cotton wicks onto the outside of the PUL.  The interesting thing is that it would wick before it would become oversaturated.  That is, it would wick before it would “fail” the drip test mentioned above.

Bum Genius Elementals:  BGE conisently absorbed 10 oz all three times before becoming saturated.  It did not start wicking until after it had reached it’s full saturation (full saturation = drips during the drip test).  Even so, it took about 10 minutes after reaching full saturation for it to wick onto the PUL.

GroVia AIO:  GroVia absorbed an average of 9.3 ounces (9oz, 9oz and 10 oz) before it wicked.   It too consistently wicked in the same place every time–right below the start of the wing tabs in the leg casing area.

Swaddlebees Simplex:  I actually tested the Simplex four times because I could not believe how much better it performed than the other 3 One Size AIO’s!  It held an average of 11.8 oz before reaching saturation, but it would not wick until it had reached 12.5+ oz!  I actually put 12 oz on it and there was no wicking at all for several hours, even though the “drip test” had the diaper fully saturated at 11.8 oz.

Conclusion:
Although absorbency plays a large role in the performace of a diaper, the biggest thing I learned from this experience is that the design can enhance the performance.  Both GroVia and Bottombumpers inners are completely lined with cloth (cotton knits) and sewn directly to the PUL(Bottombumpers)/TPU(GroVia).

Conversely, the Bum Genius Elemental and the Swaddlebees Simplex both have waterproof material at the waist–both in the front and back–which slows the wicking process considerably.  Although the leg casing of the Simplex is similar in design to Bottombumpers, not once did I experience problems with the Simplex wicking at the leg.

Coincidentally, the results of this experiment confirm our personal experiences with these diapers.  Our daughter can wear the Simplex and Elemental the longest before we have issues with leaks, followed by GroVia and the Bottombumpers.  However, this experiment does not account for compression or baby’s size.   It is possible that the fit of the diaper on baby can change how soon & where the diaper may leak from.

In my opinion, this makes the one-size Swaddlebees Simplex all-in-one the best all around One-Size AIO on the market, especially given it’s size range and capability to have either a stay dry inner, or all cotton against Baby’s skin.  (for more details, you can find my full review of the Simplex here.)  This also explains why the Simplex is the only diaper I am able to use on my now-toddler overnight, and I love that I can stuff a hemp insert in the pocket if she’s had a lot to drink and I know I’ll need extra absorbency.  Prior to her turning 15 months, all of the diapers tested worked, but that is no longer the case.

That said, of the four diapers tested, the Simplex comes in last place for fit on my daughter.  It still fits her well, but not as well as the GroVia (best fit) or Bottombumpers (second best).  So, you have to weigh fit, absorbency, overall performance and price to figure out what is going to be the best option for you.  Simply because a diaper holds the most in an experiment does not mean that it is the best diaper for your baby or your needs.
You may also be interested in my full comparison of these four diapers:
GroVia, BumGenius Elemental, Bottombumpers and Simplex One Size, All In One Comparison
Or my reviews on the individual diapers:
GroVia All In One Review

Elemental All In One Review

Bottombumpers All In One Review  

Swaddlebees One Size All In One Review

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