BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
There are many types of back packs and back pack frames presently in wide spread use for camping and hiking. The most rudimentary of these consists merely of a plain bag or knapsack having a pair of shoulder straps to secure the bag to the user, but incorporating no frame. This, of course, has a severe disadvantage in that the full weight of the pack is carried by the shoulders and back of the user, and if a heavy load is placed within the bag, the user must lean considerably forward in order to counterbalance such load. Naturally, this is an unacceptable condition for long hikes or hikes in which heavy loads must be transported. To overcome this deficiency, more recent back packs incorporate a rigidized rectangular frame upon which the pack bag and other camping equipment may be mounted, and which includes suitable shoulder and waist straps for securing the frame on the user. The use of the frame has the advantage of being able to support greater loads in a manner which tends to more fully distribute the load across the user, rather than to concentrate such load on the back and shoulders of the user.
Within the category of back packs which include pack support frames, many different configurations and sizes are available, each such configuration being adapted for use under specific conditions and for a particular purpose. For example, there are hiking packs known as day packs, which comprise relatively light weight tubular frames, having a relatively small bag supported thereon. The pack is adapted for relatively short hikes during which little equipment is required, so that the capacity of the pack may be quite small. In addition to the day pack, there are packs known as the weekender type, which comprise slightly larger tubular frames adapted to receive a medium weight pack bag, sufficient in capacity to receive supplies and equipment for a camper to spend one or two nights in the field. Pack frames have also been provided for extended camping vacations and expeditions. In the case of the former, the pack frame comprises tubular construction of sufficient size to enable the user to secure thereto one or more relatively large capacity pack bags together with several cylindrical stuff bags. The expedition pack differs from the vacation pack in that it generally includes a rigidized frame having an L-shaped ledge to support the heavy loads.
In view of the great variety of frame configurations, it is apparent that avid camping enthusiasts must purchase several different pack frames to accommodate the various uses. However, notwithstanding the apparent need for several pack frames, in the interest of economics, most campers merely purchase a single pack frame for use under all conditions, although in many instances such single frame is not fully suitable.
The most commonly used frame can be classified as an H-shaped frame, comprising a pair of vertical tubular side bars and one or more horizontal tubular cross bars, extending between and fixedly attached (usually by welding) to said side bars. In many cases, the vertical bars are curved to fit the contour of the user's back, and the bag is mounted high on the frame to raise and bring forward the center of gravity, and thus enable the user to stand erect under a heavy load. The frame is adapted to rest upon the user's back and is secured to the user by means of shoulder straps and a waist band. Unfortunately, it has been found that considerable tension must be applied to the shoulder straps and waist band to maintain physical contact with the user's back and to prevent the entire load from slipping down. Due to such required tension on the shoulder straps and the waist band, the user often feels as though he were wearing an orthopedic back brace. On fairly level trails this is not too noticeable, but for mountain climbing and on rocky terrain, the lack of flexability at the waist and high center of gravity becomes extremely restricting and, at times, hazardous. In addition, frames of this type usually include a fabric back band which rests against the user's back. Such contact often results in the perspiring of the user and is quite uncomfortable. It also should be noted that the relatively high location of the bag on the frame can catch on overhanging rocks and protruding tree limbs, and when crawling or bending, the user cannot turn his head to look upwards. In addition, in the wind the high contour of the frame can act as a sail and sometimes results in the lack of stability and the loss of balance to the user, both of which can be hazardous conditions.
Furthermore, most back pack frames are designed to fit an average sized adult person and include little or no provisions for size adjustment, other than the fact that the length of the shoulder straps and waist bands may be adjusted. It has been found that shoulder straps are most effective when they are utilized mostly to counterbalance the weight of the back pack and frame. In this regard, the top portion of the shoulder straps at the point where they attach to the pack frame should be substantially horizontal to eliminate a downward force component. It is apparent that it is often difficult to accomplish such disposition of the straps, since the distance between the attachment point of the shoulder straps and the waist band on most pack frames is fixed and the distance between the shoulders and waist of the user varies from user to user. To overcome this difficulty some manufacturers have provided means by which the horizontal cross bar on the frame to which the shoulder straps are attached is vertically movable to adjust the distance between such bar and the waistband. However, the frames which include this feature have very limited adjustment capabilities and cannot be utilized by both an adult and a child. In addition, although the distance between the waist and shoulder support points may be adjusted in some frames, the overall size of the frame itself is not adjustable, so that when utilized by a short adult or child it extends either too high above the user's head or too far below the user's waist for it to be usable.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the present invention, an improved back packing and camping system is provided which overcomes all of the disadvantages and deficiencies found in prior back packs and frames, and which includes additional features not heretofore available in such equipment.
The present system includes as a basic unit a back pack frame which may be alternately and selectively arranged to define all of the various types of pack frame configurations discussed above, and which can be adjusted in size to comfortably fit a small child and a large adult. In this manner, the user need purchase but a single back pack frame for use under varying camping and hiking conditions. In addition, the frame includes an improved support system for distributing the entire load along the hips and waist of the user, such that the frame need not contact nor rest upon the user's back. Moreover, the back pack frame which comprises the system of the invention may also be disassembled and alternately and selectively arranged to define other types of camping equipment, such as a tent frame and a camp chair, and together with a second frame can be arranged as a litter for evacuating an injured camper, a ladder and a bridge. Thus, the invention provides an all in one hiking and camping system, which is relatively inexpensive, extremely convenient and quite simple to use.
In general, the back packing and camping system of the invention comprises a plurality of selectively interconnectible elongated modular elements, which elements may be alternately disposed to form any one of a plurality of back pack frames having different sizes and configurations, wherein such modular elements comprise vertical side braces and horizontal cross bars extending therebetween; a tent frame wherein a series of modular elements are axially connected to form at least two tent poles, and at least one of such modular elements is disposed as a cross-bar connecting such poles; and a camp seat in which the modular elements are connected to form a substantially rectangular back section, a seat section connected to and extending at an angle from said back section and a plurality of legs connected to said seat section.
As additional features, the back packing and camping system of the invention also includes a plurality of quick release fastening means to permit the rapid selective assembly of the elongated modular elements into the alternative configurations; and a modular pack bag construction, which, in combination with the elongated modular elements and the fastening means, facilitates the convertibility of the pack frame into the alternate back pack configurations.
The modular elements of the basic pack frame of the present system comprise a pair of vertical side braces, each having a plurality of spaced apart openings formed therein at right angles to the longitudinal axis thereof; and a plurality of horizontal cross bars, the ends of which are adapted to be selectively aligned with any of the openings in each side brace to form a substantially rectangular shaped frame. A plurality of quick release fastening means, each adapted to removably engage the openings in the side braces and the ends of the cross bars to secure said cross bars in their selected position are also provided. Preferably, each side brace, itself, comprises several elongated modular elements removably connected along the same axis. In this manner, the overall height of the pack frame can be adjusted simply by adding or removing such modular elements. In addition, as will be more fully described hereinafter, the modular elements which comprise the side braces are adapted to be alternately disposed either in axial alignment to define a substantially straight brace, or in angular alignment to define a substantially L-shaped brace, in which the horizontal legs of the side braces define a ledge or shelf upon which a heavy load may be supported. In both the modular elements of the side braces are secured in place by the aforesaid fastening means.
The elongated modular elements are preferably hollow or substantially hollow cylindrical tubes formed of light weight metallic or non metallic material posessing suitable strength. However, other cross sectional shapes such as rectangular, square, triangular and the like may also be utilized, and in some cases may be preferred, depending upon the particular use to which the modular elements or any of the camping or back packing equipment constructed therefrom may be placed.
It is not essential that each and every modular element be identical, and, in fact, it is desirable that this not be the case. However, it is important that the modular elements utilized as cross bars be identical to each other to avoid confusion during assembly. Similarly, both side braces of the back pack frame should likewise be identical, although all of the individual modular elements, which comprise such braces need not be identical. In the preferred embodiment, each side brace comprises a primary central member, which includes at least a portion of the spaced-apart openings, and further includes a hip band support member fixedly attached to and extending from an intermediate point thereof, in a plane perpendicular to the axis of said openings. A pair of such primary members are required in each of the different back pack configurations that can be alternately assembled. In addition, the modular elements of each side brace can also include at least one upper extension and at least one lower extension, which extensions are alternately adapted to be axially or angularly attached to the primary member in several alternate positions.
The hip band support members are an extremely important feature of the invention in that they are adapted to receive and hold a hip band which rests upon the hips and lower back of the user in a manner which uniformly distributes the entire load of the back pack and frame thereacross. In addition, the hip band support members are adapted to hold the back pack frame in a spaced-apart position with respect to the user's back, to provide more comfort under increased loads than possible with prior pack frames. It should be emphasized that the hip band support members and the hip band carry the entire load, so that the shoulder straps, which are provided in the present back packing and camping system, are adapted to merely counterbalance such load to prevent it from falling, but to not substantially support the same. In the preferred embodiment, the hip band support members are in the form of horizontally disposed T-shaped sections, the long legs of which are welded to the primary side brace members and extend at a right angle therefrom a distance of approximately three to five inches. In this manner, the top leg of the T-shaped section is disposed in a plane parallel to the primary side brace member. The hip band is adapted to be attached at both ends to the outside portion of the horizontal long leg of each T-shaped section and extends around the vertical portions of both T-shaped sections to form a curved web therebetween. The quick release fastening means referred to above are utilized to secure both ends of the hip band to suitable openings formed in the hip band support members. In addition, the lower ends of the shoulder straps can also be attached to the hip band support members by the same fastening means which secures each end of the hip band. Similarly, it is usually desirable to provide a waist band to extend around the front of the user to prevent the frame from slipping below the user's hips. With the above described configuration, the waist band does not absorb a great portion of of pack frame weight. The ends of the waist bands are also attached to the hip band support members by the same fastening means which secures the hip band and the lower end of the shoulder straps.
The upper ends of the shoulder straps are adapted to be attached to one of the modular horizontal cross bars which comprise the basic pack frame. This cross bar, as noted hereinabove, can be disposed in one of a plurality of positions to comfortably fit the particular user. In this manner, the end portion of the shoulder straps which attach to the cross bar can always be horizontally disposed, thus eliminating any downward force component at the point of contact with the user's shoulders, and assuring that the entire weight of the pack will be distributed across the hip band.
It should also be mentioned that in addition to a T-shape, the hip band support members can also be formed in other suitable shapes having an opening for fastening the various straps mentioned above and which hold the pack frame in a position spaced apart from the user's back. Such additional shapes include horizontally disposed J-shaped and L-shaped members. Other suitable shapes will be apparent to those skilled in the art.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the entire load of the back pack frame pivots about the fastening means which anchors the lower end of the shoulder straps, the hip band and the waist band. This pivot point is preferably located on the horizontal section of the hip band support member at a point which corresponds to the center of bending of the user's body. This adds considerably to the user's comfort and provides freedom not experienced with the prior back pack frames.
In addition to the primary function of supporting the back pack upon the user and uniformly distributing the load thereof across the user's hips, the hip band support members also have other important functions. For example, as mentioned hereinabove, the modular elements of the back packing and camping system of the invention can be converted from a back pack frame to a camp chair. When assembled as a chair, one end of the hip band support members serve as the rear legs thereof. Similarly, the modular elements which comprise a pair of back pack frames can be reassembled to form a litter for evacuating an injured hiker. In that mode of assembly a pair of cables are extended between both ends of the litter, and the hip band support members serve as a compression members to transmit the load from the lightweight modular elements to the cable, so that the litter can carry a heavy load. A more complete description of the chair and the litter will be provided hereinafter with reference to the drawings. Finally, the portion of the hip band support member which extends parallel to the user's body can also serve as a waterproof chamber for matches, small packages of survival items, and the like.
The quick release fastening means are an essential component of the present invention, in that they fixedly lock together each of the modular elements, they secure the shoulder straps, the hip band and the waist strap in place, and, in addition, they also serve to hold one or more back pack bags on the pack frame. The fastening means are adapted to permit rapid assembly and disassembly of the entire pack frame, to permit its conversion into various other pack frame configurations and other camping equipment, and to permit relocation of various modular components to alter the size and configuration of the pack frame and/or other equipment assembled from the modular elements. The fastening means comprises a lockable pin adapted to slidably engage the openings formed in the modular elements which comprise side braces of the pack frame, and to slidably engage corresponding openings formed in the ends of the modular elements which comprise the cross bars of the pack frame. The pin includes a flange at one end and releasible locking means disposed at the other end to secure the pin in place. A central release member slidably extends through a hollow portion of the pin in engagement with locking means in a manner such that displacement of the release member by the user disengages the locking means to permit removal of the pin. Biasing means, such as a helical compression spring automatically returns the release member to its starting position to thereby move the locking means to the lock position. In the preferred embodiment, the pin is of the ball lock type, in which the releasible locking means comprises at least one pair of ball bearings, and the central release member includes a stepped portion in which such ball bearings may fall upon displacement thereof to permit removal of the pin. In the normal locked position, the balls rest upon the outside diameter of the central release member and extend through a pair of openings formed in the pin to bear against a corresponding flange or the like in the modular element to secure the same in place.
As an additional feature of the invention, the packing and camping system includes a modular pack bag construction, which comprises a main bag consisting merely of the usual top and bottom compartments. When more capacity is desired, a multi-pocket assembly is provided which may be held in place by slipping the same over the main bag and securing it to the frame by means of the quick release fastening means. Stuff bags and/or compression bags for selective mounting on the frame by means of the quick release fastening means are also provided.
The foregoing and additional features of the invention will be more fully described with reference to the annexed drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a front view of the basic back pack frame of the invention showing all of the modular elements which comprise the same.
FIG. 2 is a side view of the frame shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the lines 3--3 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the lines 4-- 4 of FIG. 2, and showing the details of a quick release fastening means.
FIG. 5 is a partial cross-sectional view taken along the lines 5--5 of FIG. 2 and showing the details of another quick release fastening means.
FIG. 6 is another partial cross-sectional view taken along the lines of 6--6 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 7 is a front view of the back pack frame assembly of the invention arranged in a heavy load configuration.
FIG. 8 is a side view of the pack frame shown in FIG. 7.
FIG. 9 is a side view of another back pack frame assembly arranged in a standard load configuration.
FIG. 10 is a side view of still another back pack assembly arranged in a climbing and skiing configuration.
FIG. 11 is a side view of another back pack assembly arranged in a light load configuration.
FIG. 12 is a side view of another back pack assembly arranged as an expedition pack for extremely heavy loads.
FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the various components which comprise a modular pack bag assembly.
FIG. 14 is a side view of the modular elements of the back packing and camping system of the invention assembled in a camp chair configuration.
FIG. 15 is a plan view of a convertible seat sling for use in the camp chair of FIG. 14.
FIG. 16 is plan view showing the modular elements of the back packing and camping system of the invention arranged as a tent frame.
FIG. 17 is a bottom perspective view of the modular elements of the invention arranged for use as a litter, a ladder or a bridge.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring now to FIG. 1, a modular back pack frame 1 is shown, which is the basic component of the back packing and camping system of the invention. The frame comprises a pair of vertical side braces 2 and 3, each having a plurality of spaced apart openings, or mounting holes 4, extending horizontally therethrough; and three horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7, extending between side braces 2 and 3 so as to define a substantially rectangular shaped structure. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, a blind opening 8 is formed at both ends of each of the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7. The openings 8 are adapted to be selectively aligned with any pair of openings 4 formed in side braces 2 and 3, to permit cross bars 5, 6 and 7 to be secured in place by means of quick release fastening pins 10, which slidably engage said openings 4 and 8. It can be seen that cross bars 5, 6 and 7 can be interchanged and alternately located in any vertical position in which the openings 8 formed in the ends thereof may be aligned with the openings 4 formed in the side braces 2 and 3, and that the number of both alternate locations depend solely on the number of openings 4 formed in the side braces.
All of the cross bars are substantially identical, and comprise a hollow tubular central section 11, and a partially hollow cylindrical insert 12 disposed within each end of tube 11 and fixedly secured in place by means of a roll pin 13 or the like. The exterior ends of inserts 12 are formed with a partially circular concave configuration 14 having a diameter substantially the same as the outside diameter of side braces 2 and 3 to permit the mating of such members. In this manner, the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 are radially fixed and cannot rotate about their axes when secured to the vertical side braces by fastening pins 10.
Opening 8 formed in inserts 12 communicates the center of concave configuration 14 and an open central portion 15 adapted to receive the inner end of fastening pin 10. Inserts 12 also include a further opening 16 extending completely therethrough, the purpose of which will be fully described hereinafter. In addition, cross bar 6 also includes an additional pair of spaced apart through openings 17 and 18, to permit the attachment thereto of a pair of shoulder straps 61 and 62 as shown in FIG. 7. It should be noted that all of the crossbars can be provided with openings 17 and 18 to more readily facilitate their interchangeability.
As shown in FIG. 4, the quick release fastening pins 10 comprise a hollow cylindrical housing 20 having a flange 21 formed at one end and a pair of circular cross openings 22 disposed adjacent the other end. A central release member in the form of a plunger 23 is slidably disposed within cylinder 20, and comprises an enlarged diameter button section 24, a center section 25, a reduced diameter stepped section 26, and an end section 29 having a diameter substantially equal to section 25. A helical spring 27 disposed within cylinder 20 around the center portion 25 of plunger 23 extends between the button portion 24 and a ledge 28 formed on the interior of cylinder 20, to bias plunger 23 toward the flanged end of cylinder 20. Plunger 23 is held within cylinder 20 by swaging or staking the end of the cylinder to form an internal flange. Releasible locking means comprising a pair of spherical ball bearings 30 are disposed within the cylinder 20 and are adapted to slidably engage and extend partially through openings 22 beyond the periphery of cylinder 20 in the locked position, and to engage stepped section 26 of plunger 12 in the unlocked position. Openings 22 have a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of balls 30 to permit such balls to extend therethrough. However, the outer surface of cylinder 20 is swaged or staked adjacent openings 22 to prevent balls 30 from slipping completely therethrough.
In operation, spring 27 normally biases plunger 23 into the position shown in FIG. 4, so that the end portion 29 of plunger 23 slidably engages balls 30 to hold the same within openings 22 in the locked position. However, upon the depression of button 24 of plunger 23, balls 30 are permitted to fall into stepped portion 26. In this manner, the balls no longer extend beyond the outer periphery of cylinder 20 and pin 10 can be removed. The fastening pins 10 are dimensioned such that the distance between flange 21 and the inner edge of openings 22 correspond substantially with the thickness of the side braces 2 and 3, plus the length of opening 8 formed in insert 12. In this manner, flange 21 and balls 30 fixedly secure the cross bars in the selected position in a manner which substantially prevents axial motion thereof. To remove or reposition any of the cross bars, plunger 23 is depressed sufficiently so that balls 30 are in alignment with stepped portion 26. When this occurs a slight outward force applied to pin 10 causes the balls to disengage the edge 15a of open central portion 15 of insert 12 and fall within stepped portion 26. The pin 10 can then be readily removed from the cross bars and the vertical side braces.
It should be noted that the fastening pins 10 normally remain in the locked position with balls 30 partially extending through openings 22 and that to either insert or remove pins 10 the plunger 23 must be depressed. In addition, button portion 24 of plunger 23 of pin 10 does not at any time extend beyond the flanged opening of cylinder 20. In this manner, button 24 cannot be accidentally depressed during use of the back pack frame and thus cannot result in the undesired disassembly of one or more of the cross bars. It is apparent that the fastening pins can be provided with an externally extending release button and for securing certain other modular elements of the back pack frame, pins of such type are preferred and will be fully described hereinafter with reference to FIG. 5.
The vertical frame side braces 2 and 3 each comprise primary member 35, having a T-shaped hip band support member 36 fixedly attached to and extending from a local point thereof in a plane perpendicular to the axes of mounting holes 4; a tubular upper extension 37; and a tubular lower extension 38, both of which extensions are axially connected to opposite ends of primary member 35. It should be noted that it is desirable for the tubular members of the side braces and the tubular portions 11 of the horizontal cross bars to have the same diameter, so that they may be formed from extended lengths of the same tubing. This is not essential to the invention, but is preferable from the pointed view of reducing the manufacturing cost thereof.
Referring now to FIG. 5, it can be seen that a tubular insert 39 is disposed within one end of upper extension 37 and is fixedly secured therein by means of a roll pin 40. Insert 39 has an outside diameter which corresponds to the inside diameter of primary member 35 in a manner which permits their sliding engagement. In addition, insert 39 is formed with at least two radial openings 41 and 41a formed therein in a position parallel to openings 4 of the side brace members. Openings 41 are adapted to be selectively aligned with openings 4 formed in primary member 35, to permit fastening pins 42 to extend therethrough and thereby fixedly secure extension 37 to primary member 35. Pins 42 are also utilized to attach back pack bags to frame 1 by extending through suitable grommets 67 formed on edge flaps 68 of a bag 70, as shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. Fastening pins 42 are almost identical to fastening pins 10 described hereinabove, and, in fact, can be used interchangeably. However, pins 42 differ from pins 10 in that they include an externally extending release button 43 attached to the central plunger to permit more rapid disassembly of a bag attached to the frame, and the rapid disassembly of the upper extension members 37 of the vertical side braces 2 and 3 to facilitate the rearrangement of the modular elements of the invention to form other back pack configurations and other camping equipment, as more fully described hereinafter. It should be noted that accidental release of pins 42 can be substantially prevented by assembling the same with the release button 43 extending toward the interior of frame 1.
As shown in FIG. 6, lower extensions 38 also include an insert 44 secured thereto by means of a roll pin 45. Insert 44 is similar to insert 12 of the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7, and includes a concave end portion 46 having a diameter which corresponds to the outside diameter of each of the tubular components of the frame. The outside diameter of insert 44 corresponds to the inside diameter of the tubular components of the frame, and is thus insertable into either end of primary member 35. A radial opening 47 extends through insert 44 and is adapted to be selectively aligned with an opening 4 formed near the ends of primary member 35. A quick release fastening pin, such as pin 10 or 42 can be inserted through openings 4 and 47 to secure the lower extensions 38 in place. A threaded axially disposed bore 48 extends between concave section 46 and an open central portion 49 of insert 44 and a bolt 50 threadably engages bore 48. The purpose of the concave section 46 and the bolt 50 is to permit the right angle attachment of the lower extensions 38 to the upper extensions 37 via radial openings 71 to serve as the front legs of the camp chair configuration shown in FIG. 14 and described in detail hereinafter.
It is significant to note that the distance between opening 47 and the end of the tubular portion of lower extension 38 is the same as the distance between opening 41 and the end of the tubular portion of upper extension 37, and that openings 4 are formed the same distance from both ends of primary member 35, so that the upper and lower extensions can be interchanged. This permits the construction of back pack frames having a variety of sizes and configurations, some of which will be described hereinafter. It is also significant that the outside diameter of inserts 12 of the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 are the same as the outside diameter of inserts 39 and 44 of the upper and lower extensions, respectively. Accordingly, such cross bars or additional cross bars of the same configuration can be provided to extend the height of side braces 2 and 3 of the basic frame 1, by attaching the same to the ends of primary member 35 or upper and lower extensions 37 and 38. In this regard, it should also be noted that the distance between radial openings 16 formed in inserts 12 are the same as the distances between openings 41 and 47 and the ends of their respective tubular extensions 37 and 38.
The T-shaped hip band support members 36 each comprise a horizontal tubular member 51 welded to a lower point of the primary member 35 and extending therefrom at right angles; and a vertical tubular member 52 welded to the end of horizontal member 51. The T-shaped hip band support member 36 is adapted to properly position the frame 1 with respect to the users back and to direct the full load of the frame and the pack bags secured thereto to the hips and lower back of the user. The weight is transferred from frame 1 to the user by means of a hip band 60 shown in FIG. 7, which extends between hip support members 36 on side braces 2 and 3 and is secured thereto by means of a pair of pins 42 extending through suitable grommets (not shown) formed in each end of the hip band 50, and through radial openings 53 formed in the horizontal members of each T-shaped hip support member 36. The hip band 60 is flexible to match the contour of the lower back of the user and is adapted to contact the user at a point corresponding to the user's belt to uniformly distribute the full load along such lines. The downward force of the pack frame is transmitted to the users body at a point corresponding to the location of pin 42 within opening 53. This point is approximately 1 to 3 inches from the axial center line of the side braces 2 and 3, and as a result the load attached to the back pack frame 1 tends to create a turning moment about this point. However, a pair of adjustable shoulder straps 61 and 62 are provided to counterbalance such moment and to maintain the pack frame in the proper position upon the user's back. In addition to the radial opening 53, other such openings (not shown) can be provided in the horizontal leg 51 of the T-shaped hip support member to permit the hip band to be attached to alternate points either closer to or further away from vertical side braces 2 and 3 of the frame. In this manner, the pivot point through which the downward force is transmitted to the user can be adjusted to most comfortably fit the user under differing load conditions.
The top ends of straps 61 and 62 are removably secured to cross bar 6 by means of quick release pins 42 which extend through openings 17 and 18 through corresponding grommets (not shown) formed at the top of such shoulder straps. Similarly, the lower ends of shoulder straps 61 and 62 are secured by the same pins 42 which secures the ends of the hip band 60 to the T-shaped hip support members 36. To prevent twisting of the shoulder straps, the top end portions are formed with eyelets 61a which are adjustably connected bt means of lace 62a. To insure that the pack frame does not bounce or slip and to insure contact between the hip band 60, and the user's back a pair of waist straps 63 and 64 are provided to extend around the front of the user. The end of such straps are also connected to the T-shaped support members 36 by means of the same pins 42, which secure the hip band and the lower ends of the shoulder straps.
As mentioned hereinabove, the horizontal cross bars can be located in any vertical position in which the ends thereof can be aligned with mounting holes 4 formed in the side braces 2 and 3. This is particularly significant with respect to cross bar 6, which secures the upper end of shoulder straps 61 and 62, since such cross bar can be relocated upwardly or downwardly to fit the size of the user and thereby provide for the horizontal disposition of the shoulder straps at the point of contact with the user's body, and thereby eliminating any downward force transmitted to the shoulders.
The ends of the upper and lower extensions 37 and 38 of the side braces 2 and 3 are provided with removable plugs 65 to prevent moisture and dirt from becoming lodged within the modular tubes. These plugs are readily removable so as to facilitate the various interconnections between the modular elements. In addition, plugs 65 are also disposed in the ends of the vertical section 52 of the T-shaped hip support members 36. Section 52 is a hollow tubular structure and the insertions of plugs which are fitted with o-ring seals 65a, at the ends thereof permits it to be utilized as a water-proof container for matches, survival articles and the like.
The primary member 35 of the vertical braces 2 and 3 also includes a circular opening 66 disposed in axial alignment with horizontal tubular member 51 of the hip support member 36 and having a diameter corresponding to the inside diameter of member 51. The purpose of openings 66 is to permit either the upper extensions 37 or the lower extensions 38 to be removed from their axial connection with primary members 35 and to be connected via inserts 39 or 44 respectively, within openings 66 so as to form an L-shaped frame, the details of which will be described hereinafter with reference to FIGS. 12 and 14. When upper extensions 37 are so connected, opening 41a of insert 39 will be in alignment with opening 53 of member 51, so that the same pins 42 which hold the hip, waist and shoulder straps will also secure the upper extensions. Although it is not shown, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that insert 44 of the lower extensions 38 can also be provided with an additional opening for alignment with opening 53. In this manner the lower extensions can also be secured in place with openings 66 by means of fastening pins 42 extending through opening 53 of the horizontal member 51.
FIGS. 7 through 12 illustrate several alternate pack frame configurations which may be selectively assembled from the modular elements which comprise the basic pack frame 1 shown in FIG. 7.
The pack frame configuration shown in FIGS. 7 and 8, which includes all of the modular elements of the basic frame 1, is adapted for transporting relatively heavy loads, and is arranged for mounting thereon a main bag 70, a top stuff or compression bag 72, and a lower stuff or compression bag 73. Each of such bags as noted hereinabove is provided with a pair of mounting flaps 68, 74 and 75, respectively, which flaps have a series of grommets 67 formed therein to permit their attachment to side braces 2 and 3 of the frame by means of fastening pins 42.
FIG. 9 illustrates a standard load pack frame configuration which differs from the heavy load configuration of FIGS. 7 and 8 in that the upper extensions 37 and cross bar 5 are not included as part of braces 2 and 3, thus reducing the height of the frame. The conversion from the heavy load configuration to the standard load configuration is accomplished simply by releasing and removing fastening pins 42 which secure the upper extensions in place, and disconnecting such extensions. The resulting pack frame has side braces which comprise the primary members 35 and lower extensions 38, as well as horizontal cross bars 6 and 7, and is capable of mounting the main bag 70 and one stuff bag. Although FIG. 9 shows the main bag positioned above the stuff bag, the reverse, or any other suitable arrangement can also be simply effectuated, as desired.
For mountain climbing and skiing, it is desirable to lower the center of gravity of the back pack, and a pack frame configuration adapted for such use in illustrated in FIG. 10. In this configuration, lower extensions 38 are axially connected to the top ends of the primary members 35 of the side braces, and the upper extensions 37 as in the prior configuration are not utilized. This arrangement permits the stuff bag 72 or 73 to be disposed above the main bag 70 to lower the main load for greater stability. In addition, the upper extensions 38 can also be utilized for securing climbing rope or other equipment, rather than a stuff bag.
A day pack or light load pack frame configuration is shown in FIG. 11, wherein the frame merely comprises primary members 35 and cross bars 6 and 7. This frame differs from the climbing and ski configuration in that the lower extensions 38 are not utilized. It is intended that the frame of this configuration be of minimum weight and employed merely for mounting the main bag 75 (FIG. 3) and omitting the pocket assembly 76.
FIG. 2 illustrates a heavy duty pack frame useful primarily for carrying large or bulky loads requiring bottom support. In this configuration the upper extensions 37 are removed from their axial connection to primary members 35, and are connected to primary members 35 via openings 66, so as to define an L-shaped frame in which the lower leg of the L-shape serves as a ledge to at least partially support the load to be carried. It can be seen that the cross bars 6 and 7 are provided to connect the vertical primary members 35, and that cross bar 5 is utilized to extend between and connect the upper extensions 37 which form the ledge of the frame. A pair of fastening pins 42 secure upper extensions 37 in place by engaging and extending through opening 53 of the T-shaped hip band support members and opening 41 formed in inserts 39 of each upper extensions 37. This frame can be used for carrying boxes or crates for extended expeditions, and can also be used as a hunters lashing frame for securing thereto the body of a slain animal. In addition, this configuration can also be used as a child carrying seat. To facilitate such use, a seat sling 74, formed of any suitable fabric, is provided to extend between horizontal cross bars 5 and 6. The ends of sling 74 are formed with a hem which defines a loop through which the cross bars may be inserted. It should be noted that when the modular elements of the back packing and camping system of the invention are disposed in the configuration of FIGS. 7 and 8, sling 74 need not be removed, but may merely be folded, since in the folded position, it does not interefere with the attachment of the pack bags or the mounting straps, nor does it add appreciably to the overall weight of the pack assembly. However, if desired the removal of sling 74 can be easily accomplished by disassembling cross bars 5 and 6 and sliding such bars out of the loops at both ends of sling 74. The cross bars can then be simply and rapidly reassembled to primary members 35 by means of the quick release fastening pins 10.
A modular pack bag construction in accordance with the system of the invention is illustrated in FIG. 13. The bag construction comprises a main bag 75; a pocket assembly 76 having a U-shaped configuration adapted to fit around main bag 75; a lower stuff bag 77; and an upper compression bag 78. The modular bag construction permits any one or all of the aforesaid bags to be attached to the modular frame of the invention, depending upon the particular frame configuration in which the modular elements are arranged, and/or the users requirements, as illustrated in FIGS. 7 through 12 described hereinabove.
The main bag 75 comprises a pair of end flaps 79 and 80 extending along the rear vertical edges of the bag. Each end flap has a series of grommets 81 formed therein for alignment with mounting holes 4 formed in vertical side braces 2 and 3 of the back pack frame, to permit attachment of bag 75 to the frame by means of quick release fastening pins 10 or 42. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the bag may be easily relocated from one point on the pack frame to another or completely removed therefrom simply by disengaging fastening pins 10 or 42 from grommets 81 and mounting holes 4, an operation which takes mere seconds. Bag 75 also includes an upper compartment 82 having a top cover flap 83 secured thereto by zipper 84, which extends along three upper edges of the bag; and a lower compartment 85 having a front zippered opening 86. A U-shaped tubular hold-open bar 87 is diagonally disposed within upper compartment 82 and is slidably attached at its terminal ends to a stamped single tab washer 87a the tab fitting the inside diameter of the hold-open bar 87, thus installed on the central grommets 81 and within the folds of the end flaps 79 and 80, maintaining the shape of bag 75 and helping to support loads placed above the main bag. Bag 75 also includes a plurality of snaps 88 disposed along the upper and lower edges thereof, and adapted to engage corresponding snaps 89 formed in pocket assembly 76 to secure said pocket assembly to the main bag.
Pocket assembly 76 comprises a pair of side pouches 90 and 91, and a rear pouch 92. Also included are a pair of edge flaps 93 and 94 having a plurality of grommets 95 formed therein. Flaps 93 and 94 are adapted to overlap corresponding flaps 79 and 80 of the main bag 75 in a manner such that grommets 95 may be aligned with grommets 81. In this manner, the same fastening pins which secure the main bag to the back pack frame can also extend through grommets 95 to secure the pocket assembly to the frame. The side pouches 90 and 91 are each formed with upper and lower compartments 96 and 97, respectively. Zippers 98 and 99 are provided to permit access to said compartments 96 and 97. Similarly, a zipper 100 is provided to permit access to rear pocket 92. When pocket assembly 76 is disposed in place over main bag 75 and the two modular bag segments are properly secured together by means of snaps 88 and 89, there is complete access to all of the pockets and compartments of each bag segment. Zipper 84 of compartment 83 is disposed in a position above the top of pocket assembly 76, so that such zipper may be opened when the pocket assembly is installed. Similarly, zipper 86 is disposed below rear compartment 92 of the pocket assembly to permit continuous access to lower compartment 85 of the main bag 75.
Stuff bag 77 and compression bag 78 are of conventional design, except that they each include a pair of flaps 101 and 102, respectively, which flaps contain a series of spaced apart grommets 103 and 104. As in the case of bag sections 75 and 76 the stuff bag 77 and the compression bag 78 are adapted to be attached to the side braces 2 and 3 of the back pack frame of the invention by means of quick release fastening pins 10 or 42, which extend through the grommets formed on the end flaps to secure the bags in place at the appropriate position upon the modular pack frame.
It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the modular bag construction of the present invention when used in association with the modular back pack frame of the invention provides an extensive variety of different back pack configurations which may be simply assembled by the user to fit numerous camping and hiking conditions.
In addition to the various back pack frame configurations, the modular elements of the invention, as noted above, can also be converted into other types of camping equipment. In FIG. 14, a camp chair is illustrated which is constructed from the same modular elements which comprise the basic back pack frame 1 shown in FIG. 1. The camp chair is substantially identical to the heavy duty pack frame illustrated in FIG. 12. In the chair configuration, however, the lower extensions 38 are attached to the upper extensions 37, which form the seat portion of the chair, by means of bolts 50 which extend through openings 71 formed in the upper extensions 37 and and engage threaded axial openings 48 FIG. 6 formed in inserts 44 of the lower extensions. In this manner, the lower extensions 38 serve as the front legs of the chair, and the vertical section 52 of the T-shaped hip band support serves as the rear chair legs. As an alternative to the use of bolt 50 to hold the lower extensions 38 in place to serve as the bottom legs of the camp chair, suitable radial openings can be provided in the upper extensions 37 and suitable axial openings can be provided in inserts 44 of lower extensions 38 to permit the right angle assembly of lower extensions to the upper extension by means of quick release fastening pins 10 or 42. The back section of the chair is defined by primary vertical members 35 and cross bars 6 and 7 which extend therebetween, and sling 74 which extends between horizontal cross bars 5 and 6 serves to support the user. It should be emphasized that the chair configuration can be completely constructed from the modular elements which comprise the basic back pack frame 1, and that no additional components are required whatsoever to convert the pack frame into the camp chair. It should also be emphasized that all of the components which comprise the camp chair are also necessary components of the basic pack pack frame, so that nothing in addition to the basic components of the frame is carried by the user.
FIG. 15 illustrates a convertible seat sling 105 for use in the camp chair of FIG. 14. Sling 105 differs from sling 74 in that it includes a central seat section 106 adapted to receive and removable hold a disposable plastic bag 107 in a manner which permits the seat sling to be utilized as a camp toilet. Bag 107 includes a peripheral flange 108 disposed along the open end thereof, which flange is adapted to be secured between a double layer of fabric which comprises seat section 106. The convertible seat sling also includes a closure flap 111 which is held in place by the separating zipper halves 109 and 110. This permits the use of the seat sling as a conventional seat support such as sling 74 shown in FIG. 14. The end of closure flap 111 is provided with a zipper half 109 adapted to mate with zipper half 110 when the top half 112 of seat section 106 is not utilized to hold disposable bag 107 in place. Seat sling 105 also includes a top fabric loop 113 for engagement by cross bar 6 and a lower fabric loop 114 for receiving cross bar 5 so as to support sling 105 in the same manner as sling 74. It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that sling 105 can be normally attached to cross bars 5 and 6 of the frame and that such sling can be folded when the modular elements are assembled in a back pack frame configuration. Naturally, under such circumstances closure flap 111 is in the closed position and disposable bag 107 is removed.
A frame for a one man tent formed completely from the various modular elements which comprise the basic back pack frame 1 is illustrated in FIG. 16. The tent frame comprises a pair of spaced-apart vertical poles 115 and 116, and horizontal cross bar 6 attached to the top of said poles and extending therebetween. Pole 115 comprises primary members 35, lower extension 38 axially connected to the lower end of the primary member 35, cross bar member 5, connected to the top end of primary member 35 and upper extension 37 inverted and attached to the upper end of cross bar 5. It can be seen that since cross bar member 5 includes an insert 12 at both ends, it is necessary to invert upper extensions 37 to facilitate its attachment to the cross bar member 5. The axial connection between the tubular components of pole 115 as in the prior described configurations of the modular elements is effectuated by means of the inserts formed at the ends of the various components and firmly secured in place by means of the quick release fastening pins 10 or 42 extending radially through suitable openings formed in such inserts. Tent pole 116 is identical in every respect to pole 115, except that it includes cross bar member 7, interchangeable with cross bar member 5. Horizontal cross bar 6 is secured to the top ends of poles 115 and 116 by means of quick release fastening pins 42 which extend through suitable radial openings formed in inserts 39 of upper extensions 37 and engage axial openings 8 of inserts 12 of the cross bar 6. The pins 42 utilized for this purpose can engage openings 41a in inserts 39 as shown in FIG. 5. However, it is preferable in order to increase the rigidity of the frame that additional holes (not shown) be provided to extend through inserts 39. Such additional holes are preferably disposed at an an angle with respect to tge true horizontal position so that the resultant frame is in the form of a truncated A-shape.
A tent 117, the details of which are specifically designed to form a part of the present invention, can be simply attached to and supported by the tent frame described above. It should be noted that the tent poles 115 and 116 are not planted in the ground, but rather are attached to a bottom flap or flange 118 formed along the edge of tent 117 by means of bolt 50 which extends through suitable grommets formed in said flap 118. Such attachments together with the cords or ropes which normally support the tent, maintain the frame in the proper vertical position. As is apparent from its description, the tent frame is formed from all of the modular elements which comprise the basic back pack frame of the invention provides a tent frame without the necessity of carrying any extra components therefor. In addition, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that larger tent frames can be constructed from the modular elements which comprise two or more basic pack frames.
The tent comprises a unitary water-proof fabric structure having slightly angled sides 125 and 126, each of which terminate in a flap 118. The front and rear sections include three triangular segments 127, 128 and 129; and the side 125 also includes a triangular segment 130, which serves as an entrance flap. A zipper 131 closes the seam between segments 129 and 130. A pair of cords 132 and 133 are provided to secure the top of tent 117 to the ends of horizontal cross bar 6, and a second pair of cords 134 and 135 extend from the bottom of the front and rear ends of the tent and are adapted to be attached to ground pegs. A series of grommets 136 formed in flap 118 permit additional pegs to be inserted therethrough to secure the tent. The tent also includes a water proof ground cover 137 which is attached along its long edges the flaps 118, and a pair of screen vents 138 disposed at both the front and rear ends extending between triangular segments 127, 128 and 129 and ground cover 137.
In wilderness areas it is often a difficult task to remove injured climbers, hikers or campers, so that they may receive appropriate medical attention. In addition, in such areas, and in particular mountainous regions, climbers and hikers often come upon streams, crevices or ravines which are difficult to cross, and steep sections which are difficult to climb. Accordingly, as an additional feature of the back packing and camping system of the invention, the modular elements thereof can be assembled in a structural form which may be utilized as a litter for evacuating injured personnel, a bridge for crossing streams or crevices, and a ladder for climbing difficult sections. A structure of this configuration is shown in FIG. 17.
To form this structure, the elongated modular elements which comprise a pair of basic back pack frames are required, and, in addition to such modular elements, a pair of extension bars 120 and a pair of wire cables 121 are also required. Each of the two basic frames which are required for the structure shown in FIG. 17 comprise a pair of primary members 35; a pair of upper extension 37 axially connected to the top end of primary members 35; and a pair of lower extensions 38 axially connected to the upper ends of upper extensions 37. Horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 are also required for each half of the structure shown in FIG. 17. As in the case of the modular configurations described above, quick release fastening pins 10 or 42 are utilized to secure each of the modular tubular components in their appropriate location. The two additional members 120 axially connect the lower ends of both pairs of primary members 35 and are also secured in place by the quick release fastening pins. The ends of members 120, although not shown, are similar in construction to the ends of the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 so as to permit the insertion of such ends into the open lower ends of each pair of primary members 35. In fact, it should be noted that members 120 can be identical to horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 to eliminate the need for producing a different size modular element, and thus reduce the overall cost of the back packing and camping system of the invention.
The wire cables 121 extend along both sides of the modular construction and pass through the interior of the vertical tubular members 52 of the hip support members 36. The cables include standard cable ends 9 at both ends to permit their attachment to the upper extensions 37 by means of quick release fastening pins 42 which extend through to the loops and through suitable radial openings in the upper extensions. The cables 121 are adapted to support the major portion of any load placed upon the structure, which load is transmitted to the cables via the T-shaped hip support members 36, thus relieving the tubular components which comprise this structure of such weight and the resultant stress created therefrom. In this manner, the tubular components are in compression and the cables are in tension, thereby eliminating all bending moments.
When used as a litter, the structure shown in FIG. 17 also includes a fabric web 122 extending thereacross. The web is provided with a series of grommets so that it may be secured to the modular components by means of fastening pins 42. It can be seen that when used as a litter, the lower extensions 38 extending from both ends of the structure serve as handles to permit an injured camper or hiker to be carried upon web 122. It should be noted that the shoulder straps and waist bands can be used to hold the injured party snugly in place.
When used as a ladder the fabric web 122 is removed and the horizontal cross bars 5, 6 and 7 serve as rungs to permit the user to climb thereupon when installed as shown in phantom lines of FIG. 17.
Thus, with the modular elements which comprise two back pack frames, in addition to the cables 121 and the extension bars 120, a structure can be provided which serves three important functions, which previously required extensive additional equipment that was difficult to transport.
Although the back packing and camping system of the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments and configurations, other modular elements and other configurations formed from the modular elements described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art and are intended to fall within the scope of this invention. For example, the horizontal cross bars can comprise several axially connected tubular members to permit the width of the pack frame to also be adjusted.