Title:
Portable shelter system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable shelter system is constructed from two portable shelters. Each portable shelter is provided with an enclosure having a front wall configured with a door and a rear wall configured with an opening. The opening of each rear wall is fitted with first and second zippers about the perimeter of the opening. A second door fitted with a mating zipper is reversibly connected to the first zipper. A sleeve having opposing first and second perimeter edges is fitted with mating zippers that connect to the second zippers of each opening when the rear walls of the two portable shelters are adjacent to and spaced from one another.



Inventors:
Walter, Thomas A. (Cologne, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/047417
Publication Date:
09/01/2005
Filing Date:
01/31/2005
Assignee:
Clam Corporation (Plymouth, MN, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H15/00; E04H15/32; (IPC1-7): E04H15/18; E04H15/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWK, NOAH CHANDLER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KINNEY & LANGE, P.A. (THE KINNEY & LANGE BUILDING, 312 SOUTH THIRD STREET, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55415-1002, US)
Claims:
1. A method of forming a portable shelter system comprising: providing first and second enclosures, wherein each enclosure has a plurality of side walls, each enclosure comprising: a first side wall configured with a first opening and a door mateable with the first opening; a second side wall opposite the first side wall, the second side wall configured with a second opening having a perimeter edge, first and second reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms being attached to the second side wall adjacent the perimeter edge; and a second door configured for connection to the first reversible mechanical connecting mechanism; providing a sleeve having a circumference and spaced first and second circumferential edges, each of the first and second circumferential edges comprising third and fourth reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms, respectively; positioning the second wall of the first enclosure adjacent to and spaced from the second wall of the second enclosure; connecting the third reversible mechanical connecting mechanism of the first sleeve circumferential edge to the second connecting mechanism of the first enclosure; and connecting the fourth connecting mechanism of the second sleeve circumferential edge to the second connecting mechanism of the second enclosure.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein the step of providing first and second enclosures further comprises positioning the first connecting mechanism facing an interior of the enclosure and positioning the second connecting mechanism facing an exterior of the enclosure.

3. A portable shelter system comprising: a first enclosure defined by a plurality of walls comprising a front wall, a rear wall and interconnected side walls, the rear wall configured to define an opening having a perimeter edge, wherein the perimeter edge comprises first and second reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms; a second enclosure defined by a plurality of walls comprising a front wall, a rear wall and interconnected side walls, the rear wall configured to define an opening having a perimeter edge, wherein the perimeter edge comprises first and second reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms, the rear wall of the second enclosure positioned adjacent to and spaced from the rear wall of the first enclosure; and a sleeve having spaced first and second circumferential edges, the first and second circumferential edges comprising third and fourth reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms, respectively, wherein the third connecting mechanism is engaged with the second connecting mechanism of the first enclosure and wherein the fourth connecting mechanism is engaged with the second connecting mechanism of the second enclosure.

4. The portable shelter system of claim 3 wherein the rear wall of each of the first and second enclosure comprises a door having a perimeter mechanical connecting mechanism, the perimeter connecting mechanism engaged with the first connecting mechanism.

5. The portable shelter system of claim 3 wherein the opening of each of the first and second enclosures comprises a diameter smaller than that of the respective rear wall.

6. The portable shelter system of claim 3 wherein the opening of each of the first and second enclosures comprises a generally circular opening.

7. The portable shelter system of claim 3 wherein the opening of each of the first and second enclosures comprises a perimeter shape different than that of the respective rear wall.

8. A portable shelter system comprising: a first and a second enclosure, each enclosure defined by a plurality of walls, each wall having a height and a width; an opening in a first wall of the first enclosure, the opening having a dimension less than the height and width of the first wall; an opening in a first wall of the second enclosure that is complementary to the opening in the first wall of the first enclosure, wherein the opening in the first wall of the second enclosure has a dimension less than the height and width of the second enclosure; a first sleeve having spaced first and second circumferential edges reversibly connected between the first and second enclosures at the respective openings; and fastening means for mechanically removably connecting the spaced first and second circumferential edges of the first sleeve to the first and second enclosures, respectively.

9. The portable shelter system of claim 8 and further comprising: an opening in second wall of the first enclosure; a third enclosure defined by a plurality of walls and having a height and a width; an opening in a first wall of the third enclosure that is complementary to the opening in the second wall of the first enclosure, wherein the opening in the first wall of the third enclosure has a dimension less than the height and width of the third enclosure; a second sleeve having spaced first and second circumferential edges reversibly connected between the first and third enclosures at the respective openings; and fastening means for mechanically removably connecting the spaced first and second circumferential edges of the second sleeve to the first and third enclosures, respectively.

10. The portable shelter system of claim 8 and further comprising a door having perimeter fastening means for effectively closing off the first opening by mechanically engaging the door with a perimeter portion of the first opening.

11. The portable shelter system of claim 8 wherein the opening of each of the first and second enclosures comprises a generally circular opening.

12. The portable shelter system of claim 8 wherein the opening of each of the first and second enclosures comprises a perimeter shape different than that of the respective first walls.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/548,936 filed Mar. 1, 2004 for “BOOT CONNECTOR SYSTEM FOR PORTABLE ENCLOSURES.”

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Portable ice fishing shelters are known that consist of a lightweight polymer sled and a flexible enclosure supported by a pivotable, collapsible frame carried by the sled. Typically, the flexible enclosure has a rear wall and a portion of two side walls anchored to three sides of the sled. When the pivotable frame is extended, a front wall of the enclosure is spaced from the sled to define an interior area for occupants.

A common manner of accessing the interior of the portable ice fishing shelter is to pivot the frame from a retracted position to the extended position while the occupant is located on or near the sled. To avoid the need for an occupant to pivot the frame to a retracted position to exit the interior and thereby minimize exposure to wind and cold temperatures, a zippered door is known to be provided in the front wall of the enclosure. Such portable ice fishing shelters are generally sized to accommodate one or two individuals and their ice fishing gear. It would be advantageous to have a portable shelter system that retains the qualities of compactness, light weight and easy set-up, yet has greater interior space for additional occupants and their gear.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A portable shelter system comprises first and second enclosures, each of which is defined by a plurality of walls comprised of opposing end walls and interconnected side walls. One end wall of each enclosure is configured to define an opening having a perimeter edge that comprises first and second reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms. The one end wall of the first enclosure is positioned adjacent to and spaced from the one end wall of the second enclosure. A sleeve having spaced first and second circumferential edges comprises third and fourth reversible mechanical connecting mechanisms which engage the second reversible mechanical connection mechanisms of the first and second enclosures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of the portable shelter system of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective view of one portable shelter and a connecting sleeve of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a longitudinal vertical section of the portable shelter system of FIG. 1 taken along line 3-3.

FIG. 4 is a side view of another embodiment of a portable shelter system of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the portable shelter system of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a side view of the portable shelter system 10 of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1, system 10 is generally comprised of a first portable shelter 12 and a second portable shelter 14, each of which have a tent-like enclosure 16 supported by a pivotable, collapsible frame (not shown) that is mounted to a sled 18. Examples of such portable shelters are sold under the FISH TRAP® brand by Applicant. Each enclosure 16 has a rear wall 20, a bottom portion 21 of which is anchored to the sled 18, and a front wall 22, a bottom portion 23 of which rests on a surface, such as the surface of a frozen body of water. In the embodiment shown, the frame structure results in rear wall 20 being slanted toward front wall 22. Access to an interior of each portable shelter is provided by either elevating the bottom portion 23 of the front wall 22 or by a zippered door 24 formed in the front wall 22.

The rear wall 20 of known portable shelters of the variety described have been either comprised an uninterrupted material or have incorporated a sewn-in clear material that functions as a window. As shown in FIG. 1, rear wall 20 of each portable shelter 12, 14 has been configured to receive a sleeve 26 that links the interiors of portable shelters 12 and 14. Sleeve 26 has width W of sufficient dimension to easily connect together two enclosures 16 without the need for direct contact or precise alignment between opposing rear walls 20, which in the case of oppositely slanted rear walls 20, as shown in FIG. 1, is particularly advantageous.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of rear wall 20 of portable shelter 12 with sleeve 26 detached. As shown in FIG. 2, rear wall 20 is configured with an opening 28 having a desired size and shape to function as a doorway. In one embodiment, by way of example, opening 28 is a generally circular shaped opening, which differs from the rectangular shape of rear wall 20. In one embodiment, opening 28 has a diameter that is smaller than the height and width of rear wall 20. Opening 28 is provided with first and second zippers 30 and 32 around the perimeter of opening 28. As shown in FIG. 3, in one embodiment, zippers 30 and 32 are connected to opposite sides of rear wall 20 such as by sewing. Other reversible mechanical connecting structures comparable to zippers, such as hook and loop fasteners, may be substituted for zippers 30 and 32.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, connected to zipper 30 is a zippered fabric door 34 having a size and shape complimentary to that of opening 28. Door 34 is provided with a perimeter zipper 34A that mates with zipper 30 and seals opening 28 when portable shelter 12 is being used alone or to segregate the interior of portable shelter 12 from the interior of portable shelter 14 when they are connected by sleeve 26. In one embodiment, door 34 includes a fabric hinge H to secure a portion of door 34 to rear wall 20, such as by sewing.

As further shown in FIG. 2, in one embodiment sleeve 26 is a unitary piece of fabric having opposing ends 35 which may be connected together, such as by sewing. Sleeve 26 has a circumference that approximates that of opening 28. Opposing perimeter edge portions of sleeve 26 are provided with zippers 36 and 38 which are complimentary to each zipper 32 of portable shelters 12 and 14. The width W of sleeve 26 may be varied according to the particular rear wall configuration employed by the portable shelters to be connected or by the desired spacing of the portable shelters. In addition, providing sleeve 26 with a width of sufficient dimension allows for variations of elevation between portable shelters 12 and 14 which may result from the particular snow or ice conditions encountered on a frozen body of water. In one exemplary embodiment, sleeve 26 has a width of between about 4 to about 12 inches.

The assembly of portable shelter system 10 is accomplished by positioning the rear wall 20 of two portable shelters 12 and 14 adjacent to and spaced from one another. Zipper 32 of each portable shelter 12 and 14 is then engaged with zippers 36 and 38 of sleeve 26 to connect sleeve 26 to portable shelter 12 and 14. One of zippers 32 or zippers 36 and 38 may be provided with double pull sliders to enable connection and detachment of zippers 32 from zippers 36 and 38 from either the outside or inside of portable shelter system 10. Door 34 of each portable shelter 12 and 14 is unzipped and opened to allow occupants to access and/or to communicate between their respective interiors. Doors 34 may be zipped closed when desired such as for purposes of privacy or to reduce the interior space a user may wish to heat. The portable shelter system of the present invention provides a quick and easy way of joining two independent, compact, light-weight and easily transportable portable shelters, allowing expanded interior space for occupants and their gear.

FIGS. 4 and 5 show another embodiment of a portable shelter system 50 of the present invention. System 50 is generally comprised of a plurality of portable shelters of differing shapes and structure, with a generally larger, rectangular shaped central portable shelter 52 being connectable to up to three smaller portable shelters 54 via the linking system previously disclosed employing sleeve 26 and appropriately configured wall openings, such as opening 28. By way of example, portable shelter 52 may comprise a collapsible shelter with an internal frame structure that leaves multiple perimeter walls to be configured with openings, such as openings 28. One example of such a portable enclosure is made and sold by Applicant under THE CLAM® brand name. As shown in FIGS. 4-5, for example, portable shelter 52 has openings of common size and shape formed in walls 56, 58 and 60 with a zippered door 24 formed in wall 62, which permit portable shelter 52 to be connected to up to three portable shelters 54 of the variety previously shown and discussed (i.e., shelters 12, 14).

Portable shelter system 50 takes advantage of the inventive concept of forming an opening in a wall of a portable shelter that is smaller than the wall and interconnecting two such configured portable shelters via sleeve 26. Each of the portable shelters 54 has an opening of common size and shape in at least one wall of the shelter and is joined to portable shelter 52 using sleeves 26, which are connected to the portable shelters 54 by zippers or other suitable mechanical fastener, in the manner described above with respect to FIGS. 1-3, to allow expanded interior space for occupants and their gear within system 50. Flexibility of the sleeves 26 permits individual shelters to be interconnected without precisely aligning adjacent walls of the shelters 52 and 54. Any number of individual shelters of different sizes and shapes can be interconnected so long as the shelters each have an opening of common size and shape. The openings of common size and shape are generally smaller than a height and width of a shelter wall in which the openings are disposed.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, workers skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.