I know a lot of people have their opinions about these things so I thought that I would share my thoughts. If you feel so inclined, you can also share yours. Every child is different so while all fabrics are great, they may not work for every family.
Outer fabrics- fabrics that keep the diaper from leaking
Wool- Pros: natural fabric for holding in moisture but allows "breathing," holds up over time Cons: if your allergic or your child is, you can't use it, have to use lanolin periodically, expensive
Fleece- Pros: less problems with allergies, holds up well over time
Cons: compression leaks, bulky, not natural fibers (polyester is made from petroleum aka plastic), expensive
PUL- Pros: inexpensive, holds moisture well, trim fit, easy to clean
Cons: does break down faster, is fabric coated in plastic
Inner Fabrics- the stuff that absorbs the moisture
Cotton- Pros: natural fiber, allows breathing, fast drying, inexpensive
Cons: requires a lot of fabric for maximum absorption, cotton is not a fast growing plant and require a lot of water
Hemp- Pros: natural fiber, allows breathing, absorbs moisture very well without the bulk
Cons: longer drying time, more expensive
Microfiber- Pros: absorbs moisture very well, dries quickly
Cons: expensive, a synthetic fiber (ie plastic)
Bamboo- Pros: absorbs moisture very well without the bulk, natural fiber from a fast growing plant, has anti-microbial properties
Cons: expensive, longer drying time than cotton but not as long as hemp
I don't own any wool because I have sensitive skin, and it aggravates my eczema. HB also has eczema. My night time diaper is one with PUL with hemp inserts for less bulk and maximum absorption. Fleece does not work for us at night or at nap because we run into compression leaks. I also have problems with it being very bulky so it's great for summer when we hang out at home in t-shirts and a diaper (I wear something else). HB pees frequently during the day so our go to fabrics are usually PUL covers with cotton pre-folds or PUL/cotton inserts pockets. We do own bamboo as well. It's a good in-between fabric. It's not as bulky so he can wear it more when we go somewhere (needing shorts) and need decent absorption.
My favorite diapers so far are Thirsties, but I also like Tots Bots by Bummis. I'm interested in trying these three brands: Smartipants, Happy Heinys, and Knickernappies. Does anyone have any experience with these? Are they trim or bulky compared to a Thirsties duo diaper? How well do they handle leaks without having gussets? Thanks!!