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Frequenting a beach, lake, pool or camp is a common summertime activity, especially for children. A trip to a beach or lake typically requires the visitor to bring with them a variety of items, including but not limited to a towel, suntan lotion, a radio or MP3 player, a snack, sunglasses, a book, a cell phone, a change of clothing and a wallet. Carrying these items can be cumbersome, so numerous devices have been created to address this problem.
For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,276,828, issued to Otley et al. describes a towel with zippered pockets that can be folded and used as a tote bag. U.S. Pat. No. 4,967,986 discloses a carryall suitable for transporting a towel, having a plurality of enclosures that can be used for storage. Patent Application US2004/0155077 also discloses a combination beach towel and knapsack. This towel can be converted into a knapsack, suitable for wearing on the user's back and also has a storage pocket.
Each of these disclosures attempts to alleviate the burden of carrying a variety of items to the beach. However, in all three cases, the solution requires the purchase of a special towel. In other words, a family would be required to buy at least one towel for each family member (assuming that the same towel could be used every day). If the specialized towel were not washed and ready for use the next day, the user would be forced to either forgo bringing the towel, or bring it without cleaning it first. Additional special purpose towels would need to be purchased to insure availability in the case of guests. Furthermore, due to the special features incorporated in each of these towels, they are less practical for everyday use.
The shortcomings of the prior art are overcome by the present invention. The present invention provides a lightweight but durable carryall for a beach towel or other object(s), with additional storage space, in the form of pockets. This apparatus can be used with any bath or beach sized towel, thus obviating the need to purchase special beach towel/tote bag combinations. Briefly, the apparatus is secured around a folded and rolled towel, using straps that can be tied together or secured with a fastener, such as Velcro®. The apparatus also has shoulder straps, which allow the apparatus and attached towel to be worn as a backpack, thereby freeing the user's arms and hands. This allows “hands free” mobility for safe travel such as on foot, bike, scooter, moped, or motorcycle. “Hands free” mobility is an important safety feature for all users, especially for children, caretakers who wish to hold the hands of children, or those who wish to free their hands to carry other items. The tote can also be used without a towel to secure clothing or items for an overnight stay or other purposes.
FIG. 1 is a front view showing the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a view showing the present invention as it is intended to be worn; and
FIG. 3 is a view showing a second embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 1 shows a front view of the present invention. The present invention has a main portion 10, from which at least one elongated member 20 extends. This elongated member 20 is adapted to encircle a beach towel or blanket that is sheet-like and is preferably in a rolled-up state, or other objects having similar bulk, such as a change of clothing that is appropriately rolled-up or bundled. In the preferred embodiment, two such elongated members 20 are shown, each with a pair of free ends, although the invention is not so limited. These elongated members preferably extend from the main body 10 of the tote between 6 and 12 inches and wrap around the object to be carried. These elongated members 20, which are preferably between 1 and 2 inches wide, are then fastened together to hold the object in place. These can be fastened using a fastener, such as Velcro®, metal or plastic clasps, or other fastening devices, or may simply be tied together.
In the preferred embodiment, the towel is first folded in half, or in thirds, along the smaller dimension. The towel is then rolled along the longer dimension, thereby yielding a cylindrical shape. This cylindrically shaped towel is then secured in the towel tote, such that the cylinder is vertically aligned, as shown in FIG. 2.
Two loops 40, one located on each side of the main portion 10, are attached to the elongated members 20. These loops 40 are of such a size and distance apart so as to allow the user to place one arm in each of the loops, thus allowing the tote to be worn around the shoulders as a knapsack. Each of these loops is preferably a single piece of fabric or webbing, however, adjustable or elastic straps are also within the scope of the invention. In the preferred embodiment, these loops 40 are between 24 and 40 inches in circumference, and roughly 1-2 inches wide. The loops 40 can also be formed once the apparatus is appropriately positioned on the user, such as by securing opposite ends of each loop with a fastening device such as Velcro.
In a second embodiment, the loops 40 can be attached directly to the main portion 10.
FIG. 2 illustrates the preferred method of use for the towel tote. Using the loops 40, the user can carry the towel or other object(s) and tote like a knapsack, or backpack. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the apparatus can be worn on the front of the body as well.
Also located on the main portion of the tote are one or more pockets 50. These pockets 50 can be used to hold a variety of items, such as suntan lotion, a wallet, keys, a radio, water bottle, beverage, book, sunscreen, or other sundries typically transported to the beach, pool or camp. The opening of the pocket 50 can be secured onto the main portion such as with a zipper, drawstring or Velcro®, if desired, to minimize the risk of items inadvertently falling from the pocket.
In the preferred embodiment, the main pocket 50 is secured via a drawstring and has an opening of between 7-12 inches. This allows the placement of a water bottle, or soda bottle in the main pocket. A second, smaller pocket 51 is also located on the main portion. This second pocket 51 is suitable to hold a wallet, keys, cell phone or other articles of an equivalent size. Alternatively, this second pocket could be placed on the back size of the main portion so as to hide it from view.
By having pockets in the tote and the ability to wear the tote as a backpack, the user's hands and arms are unencumbered. This allows the user to walk, run, bicycle, or skateboard to the pool, lake or beach. This solution allows children to bicycle with all of the necessary items, without fear that the towel will be dropped, or get tangled in the spokes of the bicycle. Further, it reduces the risk that the child will fall from the bicycle, since they are able to ride using both hands. In the case of an adult, this frees the adult's hand to carry additional items, or to hold their child's hand.
Adding pockets to the beach towels, as shown in FIG. 3, can enhance the storage capacity of the present invention. In this embodiment, the storage pocket of the tote is supplemented by the addition of one or more pockets 110 sewn into the towel 100.