Some things take a while, but eventually I somehow always manage to get my hands on products, after all. Therefore at long last today I’m able to present you with my thoughts on the Tena Slip Ultimate. Yepp, most of us have probably wanted to find out for a long time and now the moment is here where I can give you the Ultima-te answer. Cheap and obvious puns aside, let’s see how it stacks up against the other variants of the Tena Slip. For reference you may want to have another look at last year’s article, also.
Since SCA/ Tena are still being stifflers about it and this particular version is still not available officially in Germany I had to be sneaky and order from elsewhere. I got mine from a Belgian outlet at a good price, but recently everyone’s favorite SaveExpress has also started stocking the product. In other countries this should be easier and you should be able to get a package pretty much through regular channels like your pharmacy store. For the purpose of this article I opted for the standard breathable version, but if you so desire you can also get this as the foil-based Active Fit variant.
Of course the first question is: Is there a noticeable difference in the product? The simple, yet disappointing answer is that right out of the gate (or out of the pack in this case) you don’t notice any real difference except the coloring. For all intents and purposes, it’s “just” a Tena Slip like the others and it doesn’t feel any different. There’s no discernible heaviness pointing at huge amounts of absorbent materials, no palpable structure or texture that would set it apart from the ones with the lower absorption ratings.
Things get a bit more interesting when you stack the different models on top of each other in order. I put a heavy floor tile on top to compress the products to reveal their true thickness and squeeze out any extraneous air, but ultimately I guess I would have needed an elephant. Still, if you look closely, you can kinda see the visible difference of the blue Plus compared to the green Super, which in turn sets itself apart from the purple Maxi. If you hold the products in your hand, this is even more apparent. On the other hand, once you have that you’ll see no more increase in thickness with the Ultima.
Naturally, this lack of extra volume in the pad also hints that there may not be much difference in the design and shape. A quick inspection by way of some photos confirms this and at this point slowly a seed of doubt begins to grow in your mind. If there is any boost in absorbency, how is it achieved then? The answer staring you in the face is of course the almighty super absorber (SAP).
And with that we get to the core of our little evaluation: Does it work? I say it doesn’t. As I keep saying in many of my articles creating an optimum diaper is a delicate affair of balancing different physical characteristics and unfortunately just bumping up the amount of SAP usually does very little. The difference in dry weight compared to the Maxi clocks in at about 30 grams, which in theory could mean an additional 300 milliliters of liquid being bound, if you conservatively assume a 1 to 10 ratio of SAP vs. water. Still, you never seem to get there and exploit this extra capacity.
In my view there are two main reasons for this. I already mentioned the first – the unchanged shape of the absorbent pad and thus the lack of more cellulose fluff to provide drainage and liquid transport. The second is a more generic issue common to the Tena products – their pads being awfully stiff and compressed to begin with. In this particular case it went as far as producing visible tread marks from one of those rollers in the machine (I increased the contrast to make them more visible in the photo), which doesn’t bode well.
So in order to use the product, you have to towel-twist and mangle it quite hard to loosen up the internal structure of the pad. Once you have done that things feel okay, but truth be told I just don’t see the benefit. In light of the technical limitations imposed by the design (or lack thereof) I just never get there. Those two or three times I may be able to take pee more often seem negligible since by the time you would be using this safety margin the diaper would be full to the brim already and very soggy. That and this reserve would be very minor. If you get my drift: It would not necessarily safe your bacon if you are stuck in a situation e.g. on public transport where you may not be able to change your product soon.
Bad as it may sound, for me the conclusion is that this is not really worth the money it costs. Except for a tiny fraction of people who may be able to take advantage of the extra absorbency when using this product as their nighttime diaper most others presumably won’t get much out of it. This is a missed opportunity for Tena and the irony once more is that it would have taken little effort to turn this around and make it stand out. In a way it harkens back to my Slip+ idea in this article. A larger back panel would allow for a differently shaped pad and then this might actually work. As it is now, the only reason for me to buy the product again would be if it was on sale somewhere, being cheaper than the Maxi‘s or Super‘s regular price.