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The present application derives priority from U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 61/268,048 filed Jun. 8, 2009.
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to a chest wader for hunters and more specifically to a chest wader having suspension and storage features optimized for use by waterfowl hunters.
2. Description of the Background
Waders have long been used by sportsmen and in particular hunters, anglers and fly fishermen to keep themselves dry and, where necessary, warm as they pursue their sport, often in cold weather or cold water. Waders, of course, provide a waterproof outer protective layer of clothing over a portion of body to protect the sportsman as he moves in and through streams, rivers, lakes, marshes and all manner of wet and soggy terrain and are made of many different materials such as neoprene, breathable fabric, coated nylon, PVC, and rubber or a combination of rubber and canvas. A number of varieties have developed, largely differentiated by their ability to protect the angler in relatively deeper water.
At the most basic level in this regard is the hip wader which is generally a rubberized boot that extends up to the hip of the wearer and is used by the angler to wade into a stream or river to approximately knee depth water. Waist-high waders are similar in construction but extend to waist of the wearer much like a pair of pants to permit the wearer to traverse slightly deeper water. Chest waders permit entry into water that is deeper still and are generally constructed in the form of a pair of coveralls extending up to the chest of the wearer that are held up by shoulder straps. Waders of each style may be of a boot-foot design in which a waterproof boot is integrally formed at the bottom of each leg, or stocking-foot, in which a waterproof sock is integrally formed at the bottom of each leg for protecting the foot which is inserted into an external boot.
Hunters, and in particular waterfowl hunters, also commonly wear waders to keep warm and dry in the field. However, waders intended for anglers often present a number of drawbacks and deficiencies to hunters owing to differences in the way each pursues their sport and the terrain in which they do so. First, hunters are generally more concerned with warmth than anglers due to the fall and winter waterfowl hunting seasons in much of the United States. Also, hunters are at times more active than anglers, climbing in and out of boats and duck blinds as well as traversing wet lowlands and marshy areas to retrieve their quarry. At other times hunters are also less active in their pursuit than anglers. They often spend long periods of inactivity waiting in a blind for a flock to appear, whereas a fly fisherman is constantly using his hands to cast and retrieve his line.
The equipment used by each is also different necessitating different apparel. This is most apparent with respect to the shoulder straps of chest waders. Such straps are often adjustable by means of a clip or buckle at the shoulder. For an angler with a rod and reel this does not present an issue. However, when a hunter shoulders a shotgun, a buckle or clip beneath the butt is a significant and painful impediment to an accurate shot and an enjoyable outing. Other equipment such as spare shotgun shells and duck calls required by the hunter are not needed by the angler and accessible storage for these items is not provided for in anglers' waders.
It is, therefore, the primary object of the present invention to provide a chest height waterproof wader having a buckle-less shoulder strap adjustment system so as not to impede the hunter's use of a firearm. It is a further object of the present invention to provide a wader that keeps the hunter warm and dry and provides an easily accessed internal hand warmer pocket to retain the body heat of the wearer. It is yet another object of the present invention to provide quickly accessible storage for the hunter's small tools and equipment within the garment but which retains such items in waterproof enclosures when appropriate.
These and other objects are achieved by a chest high wader constructed of waterproof fabric materials having left and right leg portions terminating at their lower end at integrally formed wading boots or, in alternate embodiment, integrally formed waterproof stockings for insertion into an external wading boot. For the boot-foot waders, adjustable buckles are provided on the shaft of the boots at the ankle and calf to permit the boot to be snuggly secured to the leg/foot of the wearer. The leg portions join a body portion enveloping the wearer's midsection. Portions of the backside of the legs, midsection and/or knee areas may be exteriorly reinforced by an added layer of abrasion resistant fabric, and the knee areas are preferably internally provided with integrally formed and reinforced padding. A belt may be provided at the approximate waist of the wearer.
The body portion extends upward to a chest portion covering the upper torso of the wearer and providing support for the garment through shoulder straps extending from the upper edge of the rear bib of the chest portion, over the shoulder and joining the front bib portion. The shoulder straps are fully and securely adjustable without use of any two-part buckle, or any buckle at all. There are no bulky connectors that could interfere with the wearer's shouldering of a long gun. The shoulder straps are provided along their length with a series of transverse height adjustment slits and a second layered height adjustment strap of webbing. A ring or slit is provided at the top of the front bib and the height adjustment strap is threaded through the ring as well as one of the transverse slits before being secured to the underside of the shoulder strap by hook and look fasteners.
The front bib panel is provided on its external surface with a call pouch having a vertical magnetic closure and a vented bottom edge, shell pockets in form of looped fabric for receiving the hunter's extra shotgun shells, and a waterproof pouch or pocket having a vertical waterproof zipper. A larger cargo pouch is provided on the external surface of the front bib panel behind the waterproof pocket and call pouch. The internal surface of front bib panel is also provided with a water security pouch for safe, dry storage of sensitive items, accessible via a horizontally oriented waterproof zipper. The internal surface of the bib panel is provided with a lined hand warmer pocket that is accessed from the sides by inserting the forearm through oversized arm openings at the side of the garment. Locating the hand warmer pocket on the inside of the wader better retains the wearer's body heat and prevents the pocket from getting wet and becoming ineffective.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and certain modifications thereof when taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of waders according to the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of the shoulder strap assembly.
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the shoulder strap assembly.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the shoulder strap assembly.
FIG. 5 is an external view of the front bib portion of waders according to the present invention
FIG. 6 is an internal view of the front bib portion of waders according to the present invention.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the boot portion of waders according to the present invention.
For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiment illustrated in the drawings and described below. The embodiments disclosed are not intended to be exhaustive or limit the invention to the precise form disclosed in the following detailed description. Rather, the embodiment is chosen and described so that others skilled in the art may utilize its teachings. It will be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. The invention includes any alterations and modifications in the illustrated embodiments and the composition from which they are made which is the subject of the present application, along with further applications of the principles of the invention which would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.
With reference to the combined figures and to FIG. 1 specifically, the preferred embodiment of the present invention is a wader 10 having a right leg portion 12 and a left leg portion 13, said leg portions constructed of a waterproof fabric, preferably neoprene. Leg portions 12 and 13 terminate at their lower end by integrally formed left and right wading boots 15 and 16, respectively. In alternate embodiment wading boots 15 and 16 may be replaced with integrally formed waterproof stockings (not shown) for insertion into an external wading boot (not shown).
A best seen in FIG. 7, wading boots 15, 16 are formed of a waterproof rubberized or similar material and are provided with a heel and lug sole or other high traction bottom for ease of walking on soft or slick surfaces. One or more and preferably two adjustable buckles 80 (See FIG. 7) are provided on the shaft of the boot at the ankle and calf to permit the boot to be snuggly secured to the leg/foot of the wearer. The boot shaft, buckles and the transition from the leg to the boot may be covered by an integrally formed gaiter for protection.
Leg portions 12 and 13 extend upward from the respective left and right boots to join a body portion 17 at their upper ends. Areas of the leg portions, such as the knees 18, and of the body portion, such as the back side 19 that are subject to abrasion and extensive surface contact may be reinforced by an added external layer of abrasion resistant fabric to extend the wear life of the garment. Areas of the leg portion such as the knees may also be provided with integrally formed and reinforced internal padding to protect the wearer. Body portion 17 has a front side 20 and is generally sized to comfortably envelop the wearer. A belt 21 may be provided at the approximate waist of the wearer to secure the garment to the body comfortably and adjustably to the preference of the wearer. Body portion 17 extends upward to a point approximately level with the elbow of the wearer.
Body portion 17 extends upward from the leg portions 12 and 13 to the chest portion 25. Chest portion 25 covers the upper torso of the wearer and provides support for the garment at left and right shoulder straps 40a and 40b, respectively. Shoulder straps 40a, 40b extend from the distal ends of rear bib panel 30 which extends upward from the backside 19 of body portion 17 to cover the upper back/shoulder blades of the wearer. Front bib panel 32 similarly extends upward from the front side 20 of body portion 17 and provides a point of connection to which the shoulder straps 40a and 40b may be secured to keep the garment in place about the wearer.
With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, shoulder straps 40a and 40b are fully and securely adjustable for comfort and to match physiology of the wearer yet are absent a two part buckle or other bulky connectors that could interfere with the wearer's shouldering of a long gun. Shoulder straps 40a and 40b, which are constructed in a preferred embodiment of neoprene fabric, are anchored at the backside 19 of body portion 17 near the upper back/shoulder blades of the wearer. They are designed to run over the shoulders, extending from the rear bib panel 30 over the shoulders and down to the front bib panel 32. Proximate the front bib panel 32, straps 40a, 40b are provided along their length with a series of transverse height adjustment slits 41. Slits 41 may be reinforced at their periphery by continuous stitching. A height adjustment strap 42 of webbing of, for example, nylon, polyethylene or polypropylene is affixed to the distal end of rear bib panel 30 and extends over the shoulder of the wearer laying flat on the outside of shoulder straps 40a and 40b. The inner surface (with respect to the wearer) of shoulder straps 40a and 40b are covered with a first half 45a of hook and loop fastener material (VELCRO®). The inner surface of the height adjustment strap 42 is covered with the second half 45b of the hook and loop fastener material. A loop, D-ring or slide 43 of metal, acetyl plastic or similar material is affixed by a tether 47 to the upper edge of front bib panel 32 as shown. In the preferred embodiment, a rectangular Nylon® double-loop strap slide 43 is used.
In use, the height adjustment strap 42 is fed through the slide 43 and then through the appropriate height adjustment slit 41 of shoulder straps 40a, 40b according to the physiology and preference of the wearer. The height adjustment strap 42 is then turned back under the shoulder strap 40a, 40b and affixed to the inside of the shoulder strap by joining of the hook and loop fastener halves 45a, 45b.
Using an alternate attachment method shown in FIG. 3, the height adjustment strap 42 is first fed through the appropriate height adjustment slit 41 of shoulder straps 40a, 40b, then through the slide 43 before being turned back and affixed to the underside of the shoulder strap 40a, 40b by the hook and loop fastener.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the shoulder strap assembly. Again, shoulder straps 40a and 40b are anchored at the backside 19 of body portion 17 near the upper back/shoulder blades of the wearer as per above. They are designed to run over the shoulders, extending from the rear bib panel 30 over the shoulders and down past to the front bib panel 32. The majority of the inner surface (with respect to the wearer) of shoulder straps 40a and 40b are covered with a first half 45a of hook and loop fastener material (VELCRO®). A distal section of the inner surface of shoulder straps 40a and 40b are covered with the second half 45b of the hook and loop fastener material. The same rectangular Nylon® double-loop strap slide 43 is used. In use, the height adjustment strap 42 is fed through the slide 43 and doubled back onto itself. The shoulder strap is joined by the hook and loop fastener halves 45a, 45b.
In all three of the foregoing cases the shoulder straps 40a and 40b maintain an extremely low profile.
With reference to FIG. 5, the front bib panel 32 of chest portion 25 is provided on its external surface with a call pouch 50 having a vertical magnetic closure. Call pouch 50 contains and secures a duck calls worn about the neck of a hunter and prevents it from becoming lost or entangled with other equipment while retaining in a position of easy access. Call pouch 50 is further provided with a mesh bottom for drainage and breathability. Shell pockets 59 in form of looped fabric for receiving the hunter's extra shotgun shells are provided below or beside call pouch 50 and are preferably formed of an elastic material such as neoprene to retain shells inserted therein by friction.
Front bib panel 32 is further provided on its external surface with a waterproof pouch or pocket 52 also having vertical access opening. Access to pocket 52 is controlled by waterproof zipper 53 for protecting items stored in pocket 52 from external water sources. Zipper 53 is vertically oriented for ergonomically easy access. Pocket 52 is provided with welded seams so as to be waterproof. A larger cargo pouch 54 is also provided on the external surface of the front bib panel 32, behind the waterproof pocket 52 and call pouch 50. Cargo pouch 54 is provided with a horizontal magnetic flap closure.
With reference to FIG. 6, the internal surface of front bib panel 32 is also provided with a water security pouch 55 for safely storing sensitive items. Security pouch 55 is accessed via a horizontally oriented waterproof zipper. The internal surface of the bib panel 32 is further defined by a hand warmer pocket 60. Hand warmer pocket is preferably tubular in form and constructed of fleece or fleece lined material for warmth. The pocket is accessed from the sides by left and right lateral openings 61, 62 for left and right hands, respectively. Lateral openings 61, 62 are themselves accessed by inserting the wearers forearm through the oversized arm openings 64a, 64b, the lower edge of which is defined by the top of body portion 17 under the arm of the wearer, as well as by the vertical edges of the front bib panel 32, rear bib panel 30 and shoulder strap 42a and 42b. By locating the hand warmer pocket 60 on the inside of the wader 10, the pocket is better able to retain body heat for the benefit of the wearer and provides an ergonomically comfortable place to rest the hands. The internal positioning of hand warmer pocket 60 of the present invention also prevents the pocket from getting wet and becoming ineffective as the wearer goes about hunting.
Having now set out exemplary embodiments of the present invention, it should be understood that the invention may be used with a variety of other materials and components. Consequently, while this invention has been described as having an exemplary design, the present invention may be further modified within the spirit and scope of this disclosure. This application is therefore intended to cover any variations, uses, or adaptations of the invention using its general principles. Further, this application is intended to cover such departures from the present disclosure as come within known or customary practice in the art to which this invention pertains.