Title:
Tailored and vented facial garment
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is a protective facial garment which overcomes the problems inherent in garments that cover the face and nose. Namely, the invention addresses the problems of causing eyewear to fog from exhaled breath and having to choose between leaving the mouth and nose exposed versus covering the mouth and nose, which often results in exhaled moisture being held against the skin, causing discomfort. To address these challenges, the device is tailored to provide a vented air pocket in front of the wearer's mouth and nose and to block the natural cavity between the bridge of the wearer's nose and cheekbone. The device thus provides an alternative route for exhaled air, preventing fogging of eyewear. The air pocket provides the further benefit of warming and moistening fresh air, making breathing easier when used in cold air conditions.



Inventors:
Sutton, Charles Bradley (Boulder, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/928475
Publication Date:
07/28/2011
Filing Date:
12/13/2010
Primary Class:
2/9
International Classes:
A41D13/11
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090282605Glove with Flow-Through Pocket for VentilationNovember, 2009Carey et al.
20080092267WRAP AND COVER-UP DEVICEApril, 2008Boehler
20090260134SENSORY DEVELOPMENTAL CAPOctober, 2009Wittmann-price et al.
20100024100Layered Apparel With Attachable And Detachable ElementsFebruary, 2010Sokolowski et al.
20060185051Spectacles for a helmet and helmet fitted with said spectaclesAugust, 2006Teston et al.
20080134411Surgicl GloveJune, 2008Shapiro
20090038055HEADGEAR SECUREMENT SYSTEMFebruary, 2009Ferrara
20070050898Surgical protective system and assembly having a head gear assembly supporting a surgical garment and air delivery systemMarch, 2007Larson et al.
20050198724Interchangeable hemline for the hem of a garmentSeptember, 2005Steitle et al.
20090126073Clothing pocketMay, 2009Lovett
20090188905Waterproof, electrically heated articles of apparel and methods of making sameJuly, 2009Williams



Primary Examiner:
ANNIS, KHALED
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charles Bradley Sutton (115 Iroquois Dr. Boulder CO 80303)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective facial garment for covering the mouth and nose comprising a substantially triangular two-layer garment body having an elongated top edge and two bottom edges, and: a. a plurality of elastic members affixed to said top edge; b. a plurality of darts emanating from said bottom edges, and c. a plurality of vent pairs through said layers; wherein said darts and elastic members create an air pocket in front of the user's mouth and nose and direct the movement of air downward and said vent pairs are arranged symmetrically on said main body.

2. The garment of claim 1, wherein said vents are held in a substantially vertical position facing each other through said air pocket.

3. The garment of claim 1, wherein said vents are covered by a mesh fixed between said layers.

4. The garment of claim 1, wherein said top edge further comprises a nosepiece that biases said main body outward to help form the air pocket.

5. The garment of claim 1, wherein said layers comprise an outer layer that is waterproof and an inner layer that is a soft, short nap fabric.

6. The garment of claim 1, wherein said garment further comprises a bulk member affixed between said inner and outer layers in close proximity to said top edge.

7. The garment of claim 1, wherein said main body further comprises an opening aligned with the wearer's mouth.

8. The garment of claim 1, wherein said upper edge further comprises temple flaps.

9. The garment of claim 1, wherein said main body is provided with a closing means for adjustably holding the garment around the user's head and neck.

10. A protective facial garment for covering the mouth and nose comprising a substantially triangular, single layer garment body having an elongated top edge and two bottom edges, and: a. a plurality of darts; b. a plurality of elastic members; and c. a plurality of vent pairs; wherein said darts and elastic members create an air pocket in front of the user's mouth and nose and direct the movement of air downward and said vent pairs are arranged symmetrically on said main body.

11. The garment of claim 10, wherein said vents are held in a substantially vertical position facing each other through said air pocket.

12. The garment of claim 10, wherein said vents are covered by a mesh attached to said garment body.

13. The garment of claim 10, wherein said darts are located along said upper edge.

14. The garment of claim 10, wherein said darts are located along said bottom edges.

15. The garment of claim 10, wherein said main body is provided with a closing means for adjustably holding the garment around the user's head and neck.

16. A protective facial garment for covering the mouth and nose, wherein said garment comprises: a. a substantially triangular garment body having an elongated top edge and two bottom edges, said garment body having an outer layer that is waterproof and an inner layer that is a soft, short nap fabric; b. a plurality of elastic members affixed to said top edge; c. a plurality of darts located in proximity to said bottom edges; d. a plurality of vents that are held in a substantially vertical position facing each other; and e. A nosepiece that biases said main body outward; wherein said darts, elastic members, and nosepiece create an air pocket in front of the user's mouth and nose and direct the movement of air downward and out through said vents.

17. The garment of claim 16, wherein said upper edge further comprises temple flaps.

18. The garment of claim 16, wherein said main body is provided with a closing means for adjustably holding the garment around the user's head and neck.

19. The garment of claim 16, wherein said vents are covered by a mesh fixed between said layers.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority in U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/336,725, filed Jan. 26, 2010, entitled Multi-layer Vented Facial Garment. The present utility application is also described in U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/348,653, filed Jan. 26, 2010, entitled Vented Facial Garment and U.S. Design patent application Ser. No. 29/348,653, filed Jan. 26, 2010, entitled Vented Facial Garment with Wing Design and U.S. Design patent application (Ser. No. unavailable), filed Dec. 10, 2010, entitled Tailored and Vented Face Mask.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of protective facial wear for outdoor activities. The invention is further related to the field of protecting the face of the user from wind, sun, cold, insects and airborne dust, dirt and debris and improving athletic performance.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In order to enjoy their activity of choice, an outdoor enthusiast typically wears a variety of garments and equipment. For example a sportsman may wear a helmet or a hat or nothing on his head and this choice of headwear may change throughout the day as conditions or his level of activity changes. Similarly, he may wear ear muffs, headphones or nothing on his ears and may wear goggles or other eyewear or not.

The choice of garment used to keep the face and neck warm is particularly critical because coverings for the mouth and nose often impair vision by improperly causing the wearer's warm, moist, exhaled breath to fog the lenses of goggles or other eyewear. This may occur under various weather conditions but is particularly problematic in low temperatures and high humidity.

Perhaps the best known cold weather face covering is the “ski mask” which is essentially a whole head covering with eye, nose and mouth holes cut in it. While this does protect the user's cheeks, it leaves the user's mouth and eyes exposed. Many old-fashioned ski masks also covers the user's nose which provide the advantage of warming air inhaled through the nose but trap exhaled water which may freeze and cause discomfort. Such masks are also incompatible with ski goggles, glasses, hats, headphones or the like.

To overcome the problems inherent in old-fashioned ski masks, many types of face coverings have been attempted. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,300,240 (Edwards) shows a mask made of a cloth-like rubber material that has openings to allow the wearer to breathe. While the Edwards mask is waterproof and does not trap exhaled moisture, it is not very adjustable and does not warm inhaled air.

Another attempt to overcome such problems is U.S. Pat. No. 6,032,292 (Wood), which shows a bandana made from a rectangular cloth with an insulating layer. Bandanas are useful for warming inhaled air, but inherently allow a gap in the area where they span from the bridge of the nose to the cheekbone. This gap allows exhaled breath to escape upwards, thus fogging the user's eyewear. Wood provides a means for tightening the bandana such as a drawstring, but this does little to overcome the gapping problem or alleviate fogging and may even increase fogging as the taught fabric is more likely to open a gap along the sides of the nose.

Attempts have also been made to specifically address the problem of moisture in the breath tending to fog eyewear. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,250,577 (Smith) discloses goggles and an integral face protector that uses a venturi to exhaust moisture from the user's breath. In a more extreme example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,848,366 (Aita) uses a powered exhaust to prevent moisture-laden breath from fogging eyewear. Separate moisture-removing devices are not desirable because they are bulky, expensive and require maintenance. In attempting to remove moisture to alleviate fogging, the prior art creates disadvantages for outdoor enthusiasts because removing moisture causes the user to become dehydrated more quickly.

Breathing cold air can be a particular concern for outdoor enthusiasts. Cold air does not hold much moisture. Upon inhaling cold, dry air, a person's body heats the cold air to the temperature of the body and adds moisture. This heat and moisture is lost to the body upon exhaling. Thus, inhalation of cold, dry air causes significant heat loss to the body which compensates by constricting the flow of blood to the person's extremities making them cold. Inhalation of cold, dry air also dries the normally moist mucous membrane of the respiratory passages and reduces the capacity of the lungs, which contract when breathing cold air. Many methods are known to warm cold outside air prior to inhaling. For example, the inventions disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,412,537 (Tiger) and No. 4,620,537 (Brown) use a heat exchanger.

A further disadvantage of the prior art is that they are typically made from moisture absorbent materials that freeze in cold weather due to precipitation and/or moisture in the user's breath. Methods to overcome this issue typically require using materials that will not absorb water, as exemplified by U.S. Pat. No. 4,300,240 (Edwards) or extracting moisture through the use of a device such as a ventilator.

One feature of old-fashioned ski masks is that they contain an opening for the user's mouth. While this exposes that part of the wearer's face to the elements, it does allow the user to eat or drink without further exposure to the elements.

Accordingly, there is an ongoing need in the art for a waterproof face protector that covers all areas of the user's face while warming inhaled air without causing exhaled air to fog the wearer's goggles or causing the garment to freeze. There is a further need in such a garment to allow access to the user's mouth without removing the garment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a protective facial garment designed to condition air breathed in by the wearer while providing a path for exhaled air to prevent fogging the user's eyewear. The device is tailored to provide an air pocket in front of the wearer's mouth and nose and block the natural cavity between the bridge of the wearer's nose and cheekbone. The device further provides vents that create cross-ventilation within the air pocket and a self-sealing opening to allow access to the user's mouth.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 shows a cut away view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 in operation

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of one embodiment of the invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the challenges of protecting the wearer by providing a waterproof shell that forms a vented pocket in front of the user's mouth and nose that warms the air prior to breathing without allowing moist air to escape upwards and fog the user's eyewear.

Referring generally to FIG. 1, a particular embodiment of the invention is described. As shown in FIG. 1, the invention includes a substantially triangular shape main body (10) having an inner layer (11) and an outer layer (12) of material. As such, main body (10) has an elongated upper edge (13) and two lower edges (14). Inner layer (11) is preferably a soft, lightweight fabric which dries easily and is comfortable when making contact with the skin. In a particular embodiment, inner layer (11) is a short nap fleece that doesn't collect substantial water between its fibers. Outer layer (12) is preferably a lightweight, water and wind proof fabric.

In a particular embodiment, upper edge (13) is provided with elastic members (40) fixed between inner layer (11) and outer layer (12). Elastic members (40) bias upper edge (13) towards a shortened state along its length. When worn by the user across the bridge of the nose, the result is that upper edge (13) is gathered inward, thus filling the cavity between the bridge of the user's nose and cheekbone. In a particular embodiment, a bulk member (41) is affixed between the inner and outer layers (11,12) along upper edge (13) to further fill the cavity. In a preferred embodiment, bulk member (41) is fleece or closed cell foam.

In a particular embodiment, main body (10) is provided with a closing means (20) at the point where the upper edge (13) meets the two lower edges (14), thus providing a way for the device to be fastened around the wearer's head/neck with upper edge (13) laying across the bridge of the wearer's nose and cheeks in cold weather conditions or lower on the face if desired by the user in warmer conditions. In a particular embodiment, closing means (20) may be interlocking snaps, a hook and loop fastener such as Velcro™, ties or the like. In a preferred embodiment, closing means (20) is a hook and loop fabric which allows the user to tighten or loosen the device as desired.

In an additional embodiment (not shown in FIG. 1), main body (10) is formed with a contiguous upper edge to form a circle, which may be slipped over the user's head. In this embodiment, a strap fixed between the inner and outer layers (11,12) is provided to allow the user to adjust the size of the device. In a preferred embodiment, the strap is the ends of elastic members (40) provided with a cord lock to provide adjustability.

In a particular embodiment, upper edge (13) includes a nosepiece (50) which is a semicircular area at the center of upper edge (13) where outer layer (12) is not present, therefore leaving just inner layer (11) to complete upper edge (13) and cover the bridge of the wearer's nose. Inner layer (11) folds over and covers elastic member (40) along upper edge (13). In operation, nosepiece (50) helps bias the vertical center line of main body (10) in an outward fashion, thus aiding in the creation of an air pocket in front of the user's nose and mouth.

In a particular embodiment, lower edges (14) include one or more stitched tapering folds known as darts (60). Darts (60) are located in the middle one-third of lower edge (14) and are sewn at an angle from lower edge (14) generally towards the center of upper edge (13). Darts (60) create a bunch or pucker along their length, which biases main body (10) on either side of dart (60), thus defining the lower reach of the air pocket by holding main body (10) away from the wearer's face and causing the portion of main body (10) below darts (60) to be biased back towards the user's neck for a better fit.

In a particular embodiment, main body (10) has vent apertures (70) aligned through inner layer (11) and outer layer (12). In a particular embodiment, vents (70) are covered by a perforated mesh material (71) affixed between the inner and outer layers (11,12). Mesh material (71) preferably has holes which are small enough to block entry of snowflakes or other airborne particles, but large enough to permit the free flow of air.

In a preferred embodiment, main body (10) has from one to three pairs of vents (70) located symmetrically on either side of the vertical midline. Vents (70) are located sufficiently close to the vertical midline to achieve two purposes. First, vents (70) must be located upon the main body in the area of the air pocket in order to allow airflow. Second, vents (70) must be in close proximity to the vertical midline so that when viewed in three dimensions vents (70) are held in substantially parallel aspect facing each other. That is, vents are held substantially perpendicular to the forward facing surface of the wearer's cheeks. When vents (70) are substantially parallel, cross ventilation through the air pocket is enhanced, aiding in removal of exhaled air and water vapor.

In operation, the features of the device perform in conjunction with each other to overcome challenges not met by the prior art, as follows. As illustrated in FIG. 2, main body (10) forms a pocket in front of nose and mouth rather than laying flat against it. The pocket is formed when darts (60) bias the fabric outward away from the face in conjunction with elastic members (40) and foam (41) creating an inward bias between the bridge of the nose and cheekbone and nosepiece (50). Nosepiece (50) is formed around the user's nose, causing it to act as an additional “tent pole” holding the air pocket outward. Simultaneously, the inward bias of elastic members (40) and foam (41) blocks the upward escape of exhaled air upwards where it can fog the user's eyewear and redirects it downward and out through vents (70). The downwardly directed exhaled air warms and moistens fresh air entering through vents (70). Through the air pocket tailoring provided by the nosepiece (50), darts (60) and elastic members (40), vents (70) are held facing each other substantially vertically on either side of the nose, thus providing cross ventilation in a straight line though the air pocket. Although exhaled moisture may collect on the inside surface of inner layer (11) the pocket holds that surface away from the user's skin, preventing discomfort.

In a particular embodiment, main body (10) has a self-closing aperture (30) aligned through inner layer (11) and outer layer (12) located to be in alignment with the user's mouth, thus allowing the wearer to eat or drink without removing the garment. In a particular embodiment aperture (30) is a vertical slit reinforced by an addition layer of fabric and thread, thus providing additional rigidity that keeps the aperture from gapping open. Reinforcements (35) bias the adjacent fabric such that the aperture remains closed until opened by the wearer. Self-closing aperture (30) is particularly important in freezing conditions because removing the garment would likely result in freezing of the residual moisture held inside the air pocket.

In a particular embodiment, main body (10) includes temple flaps (80). Temple flaps (80) are affixed to main body (10) along upper edge (13) such that they may be flipped upward to extend protection to the user's face higher than the upper edge or flipped downward such that they are below the level of upper edge (13). In a preferred embodiment, temple flaps (80) are sized and positioned such that when flipped upward they protect the area of the user's face that is outside their eyewear and headwear. In a particular embodiment, temple flap (80) is made from the same material as outer layer (12).

Referring generally to FIG. 3, a particular embodiment of the invention is described. As shown in FIG. 3, the invention includes a substantially triangular shape main body (110) made of a single layer of material. As such, main body (110) has an elongated upper edge (113) and two lower edges (114). Main body (110) is preferably a soft, lightweight fabric which dries easily and is comfortable when making contact with the skin. Main body (110) is preferably also a lightweight, water and wind proof fabric.

In a particular embodiment, main body (110) is provided with a closing means (120) at the point where the upper edge (113) meets the two lower edges (114), thus providing a way for the device to be fastened around the wearer's head/neck with upper edge (113) laying across the bridge of the wearer's nose and cheeks in cold weather conditions or lower on the face if desired by the user in warmer conditions. In a particular embodiment, closing means (120) may be interlocking snaps, hook and loop fastener's such as Velcro™, ties or the like. In a preferred embodiment, closing means (120) is a hook and loop fabric to allow the user to tighten or loosen the device as desired. In an additional embodiment (not shown in FIG. 3), main body (110) is formed with a contiguous upper edge to form a circle, which may be slipped over the user's head.

In a particular embodiment, upper edge (113) is provided with elastic members (140) sewn inside a fold along the upper edge of main body (110). Elastic members (140) bias upper edge (113) towards a shortened state along its length. Upper edge (113) is further provided with one or more darts (150) which bias the fabric of main body (110) inward. When worn by the user across the bridge of the nose, the result is that upper edge (113) is gathered inward by elastic members (140) and darts (150), thus filling the cavity between the bridge of the nose and the cheekbone. In a particular embodiment, elastic members (140) are enclosed by a double fold inside upper edge (113). A double fold increases the amount of material gathered inward across the edge of the user's nose, thus enhancing the effect of filling the cavity as described above.

In a particular embodiment, lower edges (114) include one or more darts (160). Darts (160) are located in the middle one-third of lower edge (114) and are sewn at an angle from lower edge (114) generally towards the center of upper edge (113). Darts (160) create a bunch or pucker along their length, which biases main body (110) in outward direction, thus holding main body (110) away from the wearer's face.

In a preferred embodiment, main body (110) has from one to three pairs of vents (170) located symmetrically on either side of the vertical midline. Vents (170) are located sufficiently close to the vertical midline to achieve two purposes. First, vents (170) must be located upon the main body in the area of the air pocket in order to allow airflow. Second, vents (170) must be in close proximity to the vertical midline so that when viewed in three dimensions vents (170) are held in substantially parallel aspect facing each other. That is, vents are held perpendicular to the forward facing surface of the wearer's cheeks. When vents (170) are substantially parallel, cross ventilation through the air pocket is enhanced, aiding in removal of exhaled air and water.

In operation, the features of the device perform in conjunction with each to overcome challenges not met by the prior art, as follows. Main body (110) forms a pocket in front of nose and mouth rather than laying flat against it. The pocket is formed when darts (160) bias the fabric outward away from the face in conjunction with elastic members (140) and darts (150) creating an inward bias between the bridge of the nose and cheekbone. Simultaneously, the inward bias of elastic members (140) and darts (150) blocks the upward escape of exhaled air upwards where it can fog the user's eyewear and redirects it downward. The downwardly directed exhaled air warms and moistens fresh air entering through vents (170). Through the air pocket tailoring provided by upper edge (113), darts (150, 160), and elastic members (140), the vents (170) are held facing each other substantially vertically on either side of the nose, thus providing cross ventilation in a straight line though the air pocket. Although exhaled moisture may collect on the inside surface of inner layer (110) the pocket holds that surface away from the user's skin, preventing discomfort.

In a particular embodiment, thread colors that contrast with the color of the main body (10, 110) are used to create a visual aid for the user to ensure correct placement of the invention upon the user's face.