Title:
Garment for use with backpacks
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The garment (14) is provided with a pack, such as a day pack or expedition pack. Cushioning pads (26) are located at the pack pressure points, such as about the shoulder and/or hips, which provide more uniform load distribution of the pack weights.



Inventors:
Babcock, John W. (Huntsville, UT, US)
Application Number:
10/169277
Publication Date:
12/19/2002
Filing Date:
06/24/2002
Assignee:
BABCOCK JOHN W.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45F3/12; A45F3/14; A45F3/04; (IPC1-7): A41D27/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John Babcock (Huntsville, UT, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A garment for reducing the dynamic load of a pack on a wearer wearing the pack, comprising: a front comprising a pair of shoulder straps, the straps having upper and lower ends; a back, the upper end of the rear portion attached to the upper ends of the shoulder straps; a hip strap attached to the lower ends of the shoulder straps and the back; cushioning pads generally disposed along a portion of the shoulder straps; and at least one cushioning pad generally disposed along the hip strap; wherein the cushioning pads are disposed at pressure points to thereby reduce dynamic loading on the wearer.

2. The garment of claim 1, further comprising: a chest strap having two ends, each end of the chest strap connected to a shoulder strap.

3. The garment of claim 1, further comprising: an inflation valve connected to a cushioning pad.

4. The garment of claim 1, the shoulder cushioning pad further comprising a pad sock.

5. The garment of claim 1, wherein the shoulder cushioning pads are permanently affixed to the shoulder straps.

6. The garment of claim 1, wherein the shoulder cushioning pads are removable.

7. The garment of claim 6, wherein the shoulder cushioning pads are affixed to the shoulder straps with VELCRO® or attachment straps.

8. The garment of claim 1, further comprising a hand pump.

9. A garment for reducing the dynamic load of a pack on a wearer wearing the pack, comprising: a front having upper and lower ends; a back having upper and lower ends, the upper end of the back attached to the upper end of the front; a hip strap attached to the lower ends of the front and the back; cushioning pads generally disposed at the upper end of the front or back portion; and at least one cushioning pad generally disposed along the hip strap; wherein the cushioning pads are disposed at pressure points to thereby reduce dynamic loading on the wearer.

10. An cushioning pad sock assembly comprising: a cushioning pad having an inflation valve; a pad sock having an aperture, the inflation valve accessible through the aperture; and attachment ties or VELCRO® for attaching the assembly to a pack strap.

Description:
[0001] Packs, such as day packs, backpacks and the like, have been used for centuries to carry loads. For example, the traditional rucksack has a pair of cloth or leather shoulder straps attached to a bag. The rucksack can be filed with a variety of items, up to the size of the bag. More recently, packs have been developed in a wide variety of sizes and shapes for specialized applications. For example, day packs are designed for carrying light loads, while heavy duty expedition packs are designed for carrying large loads. Such packs typically include internal load supports or have isolated load supports that direct the pack load to an external frame. The pack load is directed through the load supports to pressure points on the body of the wearer.

[0002] External frame packs typically have a rigid frame, shoulder straps and a lower hip support. A pack is attached to the frame by various devices. The lower hip support is also typically attached to the frame. Most currently available external frame packs utilize a flexible fabric for the shoulder and hip straps. The straps can have elastomeric pads to minimize load discomfort and to cushion the load points of the pack where they contact the body, such as in the shoulders and/or hips. Internal frame packs also typically have pads in the shoulder straps. Internal frame packs can also have cushioning pads positioned where the pack will contact of the wearer's body, such as in the hip region.

[0003] The cushioning pads typically used on packs are an elastomeric material located within a fabric envelope. Although these pads relieve point loading and partially distribute the pack loads concentrated on the shoulder straps and hip pads, they fall short of achieving an optimized cushioning effect and uniform load distribution for the dynamic loads. Therefore, there is a need for a garment for use with a pack, the garment providing improved load cushioning for the pack wearer.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present invention provides a garment for use with a pack, such as a day pack or expedition pack. The garment, typically in the shape of a vest, provides more uniform load distribution of the pack weight. The garment, generally stated, is flexible with cushioning pads located at the pack pressure points, such as about the shoulders and/or hips. The garment has front and back portions. Each portion is manufactured of a durable, yet flexible fabric, such as a natural or synthetic material. In selected embodiments, the fabric is cotton, nylon, polyester, 60/40 cloth, GORE-TEX®, leather, a net mesh, and the like. The size of the garment can vary, depending on the size of the wearer, the dimensions of the pack, the locations of the pack pressure points, and the load to be carried. Advantageously, the garment can be fitted to an individual back packer and can then be used by that back packer to carry a variety of different packs.

[0005] Cushioning pads are located at the pressure points, such as, for example, the shoulder and/or hip locations. The cushioning pads are made of air-tight material, such as, for example, polyurethane, nylon, or plastic. The cushioning pads can be integrally formed in the garment or may be attached to the garment. Each cushioning pad is typically inflatable with a fluid, such as air, or a liquid, such as water. In a preferred embodiment, the fluid is air. The degree of inflation of the pads is preferably individually adjustable for optimal load distribution and comfort. Each pad can include one or more chambers or cells. The chambers or cells can be individually or collectively inflatable. Each cushioning pad typically has an inflation valve, such as an air inflation valve. The cushioning pad is inflated, for example, by the wearer blowing air into the pads, by mechanical means, such as a pump or CO2 cartridge, or by transferring a liquid into the pad.

[0006] Each cushioning pad optionally has a pad sock that is formed of a flexible material. The material can be an a natural or synthetic material, such as cotton, nylon, polyester, 60/40 cloth, GORE-TEX®, leather, a net mesh, and the like. The material of the pad sock can be elastomeric or non-elastomeric. Suitable non-elastomeric materials will include pvc-coated polyester or nylon fabrics. The weight and density of the non-elastomeric materials are selected according to the weight of the backpack and the amount of fluid (e.g., pressure) to be contained by the pad.

[0007] In one embodiment, the cushioning pads are permanently affixed (either attached internal or externally or formed integrally) to the vest, while in another embodiment, the pads can be detachable. Removable cushioning pads are preferred for some applications, for example, so that the relative position of the pads can be adjusted, according to the type of pack being carried. The placement of the pads preferably will not interfere with the movement of the wearer.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0008] FIG. 1A is a side perspective view of a backpack and a garment according to the present invention positioned on a person.

[0009] FIG. 1B is front perspective view of a backpack and a garment according to the present invention positioned on a person.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a garment according to the present invention.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of a garment according to the present invention.

[0012] FIGS. 4A-4D illustrate forces on a cushioning pad of a garment according to the present invention.

[0013] FIGS. 5A-5C depict an invented cushioning pad sock assembly.

[0014] FIG. 6 depicts a side view of a backpacker 12 wearing a pack 16 that has attached thereto cushioning pad pocket assemblies according to the present invention.

[0015] FIG. 7 depicts a front view of a backpacker 12 wearing a pack 16 that has attached thereto cushioning pad pocket assemblies 100 attached thereto.

[0016] FIGS. 8A-8C depict alternative embodiments of the cushioning pad.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0017] Referring to FIG. 2, a garment 14 according to the present invention is depicted. The garment 14, typically in the form of a vest, has a front 24 and a back 22 portion. In one embodiment, the front 24 has two front shoulder straps 50a and 50b, one extending generally downward from each shoulder. The front shoulder straps 50a and 50b are formed of a strong, flexible material, such as nylon, leather, polyester, and the like. The straps can either be solid or formed of a net or mesh material. The front shoulder straps 50a and 50b are joined at their lower ends to a hip strap 55. The hip strap 55 is similarly formed of a strong, flexible material, such as nylon, leather, polyester, and the like. The hip strap 55 can also include a buckle, VELCRO®, or other fastening means., for connecting two portions of the hip strap 55. At their upper ends, the front shoulder straps 50a and 50b are joined to the back 22. The front 24 of the garment 14 can optionally further include a chest strap 35 to limit the movement of the front shoulder straps 50a and 50b. Such a chest strap 35 can be removeably fastened to each strap 50a and 50b, or it can be integrally formed with the front shoulder straps 50a and 50b.

[0018] Each of straps 50a and 50b include interengaging means (such as VELCRO®, buckles, and the like) which engage with corresponding interengaging means located on the straps. Such interengaging means can be used to adjust the length of the straps 50a and 50b to fit the wearer. Alternatively, the straps can be made of an elastic material that is sized to hold the garment 14 securely against the wearer.

[0019] In another embodiment, the front 24 is formed of a single piece of material. Such material is preferably elastic to hold the garment 14 securely against the wearer. The garment can optionally include arm portions.

[0020] The back 22 of garment 14 can also be formed of a single portion or multiple or straps. For example, referring to FIG. 3, the back 22 is formed of upper and lower portions 54a and 54b, respectively. The upper and lower portions 54a and 54b are joined by, for example, sewing. The back portion 22 can also optionally have one or more apertures 29 for cooling or to provide access to the back of the back packer. The lower portion 54b is joined to the hip strap 55. In one embodiment, the hip strap is integral with the lower portion 54b of the back 22. In another embodiment, the upper 54a and lower 54b portions of back 22 are straps, such as those used on the front portion 24. The lower end of each strap is joined to the hip strap 55. The upper end of each strap is joined to the corresponding part of the front 24.

[0021] The garment 14 according to the present invention further comprises cushioning pads, which distribute the pack weight at the pressure points (i.e., the location where the pack exerts pressure on the wearer, such as at the hips and/or shoulders). The cushioning pads are made of air-tight material, such as polyurethane, nylon, plastic, and the like. The cushioning pads can comprise a single or multiple cells. The cells can optionally be interconnected or can be individually inflatable.

[0022] Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, cushioning pads 26 are located at the shoulder position. The shoulder cushioning pads 26 are typically aligned along the shoulder straps 50a and 50b and/or the upper ends of the back 22, and at the pressure points. The size and shape of the shoulder cushioning pads 26 generally conform to the size and shape of the pressure point. For example, the width of the shoulder cushioning pads 26 is preferably slightly larger than the width of the backpack strap, so that the pressure exerted by the backpack strap is transferred to the shoulder cushioning pad 26 and to a larger area of the wearer.

[0023] The shoulder cushioning pads 26 are attached to the back 22 and/or front 24 portions of the garment 14. In one embodiment, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 are formed integrally with the back 22 and/or front 24. Alternatively, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 are attached to the front 24 and/or back 22. In such an embodiment, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 can either be removable or permanently affixed. For example, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 can be attached with VELCRO®, one or more attachment straps (including ties), or other suitable fasteners. Alternatively, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 can be stitched, glued, or otherwise attached to the front 24 and/or rear 22 portion. The shoulder cushioning pads 26 can be located under or over the front 24 and back 22. In a preferred embodiment, the shoulder cushioning pads 26 are located on the exterior and overlap the front 24 and/or back 22 portions.

[0024] One or more cushioning pads can also be located at the hips. For example, referring to FIG. 3, one or more hip cushioning pads 28 are disposed at the lower part of back 22 and/or hip strap 55. The hip cushioning pad 28 are typically positioned at the pressure points (i.e., the location where the pack exerts pressure on the wearer's hips). The hip cushioning pad 28 can be formed integrally with the hip strap 55 and/or back 22 portion (e.g., by stitching or gluing), or can be permanently or removeably attached to hip strap 55 and/or back 22 (e.g., with VELCRO®, one or more attachment straps, or other suitable fasteners). The hip cushioning pad 28 can be located under or over the hip strap 55 and/or back 22. In a preferred embodiment, the hip cushioning pad 28 is located on the exterior surface of the hip strap 55 and back 22. In another embodiment, the cushioning pads are also located on the front or side of the hip strap 55, according to the pressure points on the wearer's body.

[0025] Each cushioning pad typically has an inflation valve. Each inflation valve is bonded or otherwise sealingly attached to the cushioning pad to prevent fluid from leaking from the pad. Suitable inflation valves can be of any suitable type, such as those currently used on air mattresses, inflatable water toys, or other inflatable devices. One or more inflation valves are optionally interconnected via tubing, so that the amount of fluid (e.g., pressure) in the one or more cushioning pads connected to the tubing can adjusted simultaneously. Alternatively, additional valves can optionally be disposed at appropriate locations in the tubing so that the fluid (e.g., pressure) in one or more of the cushioning pads can be individually adjusted.

[0026] The cushioning pads are filled with a fluid, such as air, water, microsphere/liquid mixtures, and the like. The volume of fluid in the pads can be adjusted according to the weight of the pack as well as the anticipated amount of dynamic loading. For example, with a light load, the cushions can be inflated (e.g., filled with air or liquid) to a lower pressure. For a heavy load carried in rough terrain, the pads are preferably inflated to a higher pressure

[0027] In a preferred embodiment, each pad has an inflation valve. For example, referring to FIG. 2, inflation valves 21 are present on shoulder cushioning pads 26 and on hip cushioning pad(s) 28. The cushioning pads are inflated with fluid (e.g., air) through the inflation valves. Alternatively, the section of extension tubing can be connected to each valve so that the pads can be inflated while worn by the wearer. In another embodiment, one or more of the inflation valves are connected to an external source of pressurized gas, such as a carbon dioxide cartridge.

[0028] The garment 14 can optionally further include tubing and a hand pump. The tubing and hand pump can either be permanently affixed or removeably attached to one or more inflation valves. The amount of fluid in each cushioning can be increased by pumping the hand pump.

[0029] Referring to FIGS. 5A to 5C, additional embodiments of individual cushioning pads 27 are shown. A cushioning pad 27 can be optionally covered with a pad sock 52. For example, a cushioning pad 27, having an inflation valve 25, can be inserted into a pad sock 52. The pad sock 52 can be made of natural or synthetic flexible fabrics so that the pad sock 52 will be flexible and have adequate strength to enclose the inflated cushioning pad 27. For example, the pad sock 52 can be made of cotton, nylon, GORTEX®, polyester, and the like. The pad sock 52 typically has an aperture 59 through which the inflation valve 25 is accessed. In a preferred embodiment, the inflation valve 25 at least partially protrudes through the aperture 59. The pad sock 52 optionally further includes a flapcover 56, having VELCRO® or other suitable fastener 58. The opposites end and side of the pad sock 52 are typically closed. Thus, by closing flapcover 56, the cushioning pad 27 is retained in the pad sock 52 to form an cushioning pad sock assembly 100. In another embodiment, attachment straps, such as for example, attachment straps 62 and 64, are optionally attached to the cushioning pad sock assembly 100. The attachment straps can be either permanently attached (e.g., sewn, glued, or bonded) or removeably attached (e.g., with VELCRO® or other suitable fastener).

[0030] The use of the invented attachment straps allows the cushioning pad sock assembly 100 to be attached at any desired location on the garment 14 or directly to a pack 16. Referring to FIG. 6, the cushioning pad sock assemblies 100 are shown attached to the garment 14 by attachment straps 62. The straps 64 secure the cushioning pad sock assembly 100 to the garment at the pressure points (e.g., load transfer areas). Referring to FIG. 7, a front view of a wearer (e.g., a backpacker) 12 wearing a pack 16 that has the invented cushioning pad sock assemblies 100 attached to the pack 16 at the shoulder and hip locations. Attachment straps 64 securely position the cushioning pad sock assemblies 100 at the pressure points (e.g. load transfer location) of the back pack.

[0031] Referring to FIGS. 8A-8C, another embodiment of cushioning pad 27 is shown. FIG. 8A depicts a side view. Grommets 74 are shown on a grommet strip 72, which is attached to the cushioning pad 27. Alternatively, the grommet strip 72 is attached to the pad sock 52 of a cushioning pad sock assembly 100. Referring to FIG. 8C, another view of the cushioning pad assembly 100 is shown with the grommet strip 72 attached. A typical pack shoulder strap 79 is superimposed on the cushioning pad assembly 100. Grommet laces 76, such as nylon or shock cords are shown inserted through the grommet strip 72 over the shoulder strap 79. The grommet laces 76 are shown over and flexibly securing the shoulder strap 79 to the cushioning pad assembly 100. Referring to FIG. 8B, a cross-sectional view of the cushioning pad sock assembly 100 of FIG. 8C at A-A is shown. The grommet strips 72 are shown permanently attached to the cushioning pad assembly 100. The material for the grommet strips 72 is preferably a strong and flexible material.

[0032] In an alternative embodiment, the cushioning pad assembly 100 can be used with commercially available pack straps without the need for a garment 14.

[0033] Referring to FIGS. 1A and 1B, a person 12 is shown with a typical pack 16 and garment 14 according to the present invention. The weight (i.e., load) 13 of the contents of the pack 16 is shown distributed to the garment 14 through the shoulder cushioning pads 26 and hip cushioning pads 28. Referring to FIGS. 4A-4D, partial torso views are depicted. FIGS. 4A and B shows shoulder cushioning pads 26 inflated to height 36 to support static load 32, which is a portion of weight 13. The weight is transmitted to the shoulder cushioning pads 26 through front 24 and rear 22 of the garment 14. FIGS. 4C and 4D shows the effect of the dynamic load 38 of static load 32 transmitted to the shoulder cushioning pad 26. The dynamic load 38 is typically the result of stopping suddenly or from jarring steps down a steep incline in rough terrain. The deformed shape is due to the reduced height 40 of the shoulder cushioning pad 26 and the increased width 42 of that pad. As will be appreciated by the skilled artisan, the dynamic loads resulting from sudden stops or jarring steps are typically orders of magnitude higher than the static load of the pack weight 13 alone. The pad deformation is a manifestation of partial absorption of the dynamic load. The effect on the wearer 12 of the cushion deformation under increased loading is a more uniform distribution of the dynamic load 38 and results in less strain and load concentration than for packs without such cushioning. Hip cushioning pads will also experience a similar deformation as a result of changes in dynamic loading, and provide similar absorption of the dynamic load.

[0034] It is to be understood that variations and modifications of the present invention may be made without departing from the scope thereof. It is also to be understood that the present invention is not to be limited by the specific embodiments disclosed herein, but only in accordance with the appended claims when read in light of the foregoing specification.