How to Select Adult Pull-On Underwear

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Pull-up style underwear and adult diapers are two of the most popular types of incontinence products. Both styles have benefits and are designed for varying levels of absorbency and comfort to suit a wide range of comfort preferences, protection/absorbency needs, mobility levels and style specifications. According to The Simon Foundation, there are 'many outstanding retailers and manufacturers who offer excellent customer service, a wide range of incontinence products and accessories..."

Pull-Ons vs Adult Diapers with Tabs

Both styles can be used to manage moderate to heavy incontinence. The primary difference between adult diapers with tabs and pull-ons are the side seams. While both can be removed without taking off a person's pants, only tab-style briefs can be put on in this fashion because they feature fastenable tabs on the sides. 

Adult diapers with tabs are usually worn by individuals with limited mobility and those who have caregivers. It is easier for family caregivers to change loved ones with this style of diaper because clothes do not have to be removed when the diaper is changed. Pull-ons, designed to be worn like underwear, are ideal for individuals who are more active and want a product that is easier to change, less bulky, more discreet and quieter. Pull-up style underwear also offer a breathable exterior and secure leg openings that offer more freedom than other incontinence products. 
NorthShore brief and underwear

Benefits of Adult Pull-Up Diapers

Pull-ons typically feature a comfortable, form-fitting elastic waistband, similar to regular underwear. They are also often specially designed to suit the unique anatomy of men and women, which offers a more comfortable fit for each gender. Although adult diapers are usually featured on overnight incontinence lists, there are some pull-ons that can offer protection for up to 8 hours, like NorthShore's GoSupreme Underwear. Common pull-on features include:

  • Look and feel like traditional underwear

  • Easier to change than adult diapers

  • Often less bulky and more discreet

  • Made with cloth-like materials, which makes them quieter

  • Appropriate for those with moderate to heavy incontinence

  • Usually feature breathable panels and anti-leak guards

Choosing a Pull-On

When shopping for incontinence underwear, there are many choices available. Incontinence products offer a variety of features, which may vary from brand to brand. Each feature has a purpose; the key is to choose the pull-on that best meets a person's needs. Take the following features into consideration when choosing incontinence underwear: 

  • Size - Absorbent undergarments come in a variety of sizes, usually based on waist and hip measurements. Some brands, like NorthShore, offer up to 2XL.

  • Absorbency - The amount of liquid the pull-on can handle, which usually ranges from light to massive capacity. Absorbency is typically expressed in ounces.

  • Design - Premium products offer gender-specific products that best meet the needs of men and women as well as each gender's body type.

  • Contour - How the pull-on fits. Special features such as leg cuffs help make the product fit more snug and comfortable.

  • Odor Control - Absorbent products usually offer odor control technology that is unique to each brand. Premium brands tend to offer better odor control.

  • Moisture Wicking - Absorbent products, such as pull-ons, pull, or "wick," moisture away from the body to keep the wearer dry and comfortable.

5 Helpful Questions When Shopping for Pull-Ons

1. How much absorbency is needed?

For heavier incontinence, finding a pull-on that can absorb a large amount of liquid is important. Products that claim they can absorb up to 20 ounces or more are considered high absorbency. The higher the ounces, the more absorbent the pull-on. NorthShore's website provides a convenient droplet count for most products to make it easy to determine capacity. The more droplets, the more a product can absorb.

2. How large are the leg openings?

Choose thinner or thicker leg openings as needed. The goal is to be as comfortable as possible while moving, so leg openings should not be too small or too wide. If used for sleeping or sitting for long periods of time, a pull-on should offer a secure fit around the legs to prevent leaks.  

Pull-ons with larger leg openings: NorthShore FlexSupreme™

Pull-ons with smaller leg openings: NorthShore GoSupreme™

3. When will the pull-on be worn?

If wearing at night or for long periods during the day, choose a pull-on designed for extended usage that has an extra tall elastic waistband for added protection. 

4. How much leakage protection is needed?

If the current product is not containing leaks, consider using a pull-on with tall leak guards. This special feature helps prevent leaks by providing added protection around leg openings and an added barrier where liquid is contained. 

5. Will there be layering?

If regular underwear, a bodysuit, diaper cover or anything else is going to be worn over a pull-on, select one with a soft waistband to avoid discomfort. Premium brands usually offer softer, cotton-like waistbands. 

Top-Selling Pull-Ons 

NorthShore offers a variety of pull-up style underwear, including the popular GoSupreme with up to 8 hours of protection for day or night use. Other NorthShore pull-ons offer between 6 to 8 hours of capacity as well.

Here are the top-selling pull-ons:


NorthShore FlexSupreme


NorthShore GoSupremeNORTHSHORE-GOSUPREME-parent-flag.jpg

Disposable underwear is like regular underwear, it has to be comfortable when worn. Managing incontinence can be challenging, so finding the right pull-on is important. Compare products based on important criteria and take advantage of 'try before you buy' sample programs when offered.  

Shop our complete line of Pull-up Style Underwear or call (800) 563-0161 for personalized assistance.

Shop Protective Underwear

NorthShore FlexSupreme Pull-On Underwear
Top Seller

Starting At: $22.99 FSA/HSA Eligible

NorthShore GoSupreme Pull-On Underwear
Top Seller

Starting At: $22.99 FSA/HSA Eligible

NorthShore GoSupreme Lite Pull-On Underwear
Staff Pick

Starting At: $20.25 FSA/HSA Eligible