Title:
Spill-resistant pouch
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pouch includes a first and second panel members joined to one another to define a compartment having an opening at the top thereof. A flexible cover overlaps the opening. A belt receiving portion is attached to one of the panels and is mountable on the belt of a user. The first panel is located on an exposed side of the second panel which faces away from the user. The flexible cover is positioned at the top of the second panel to encase the compartment opening in order to prevent the spillage of objects within the compartment when the pouch is inverted, tilted or jostled. At least a portion of the cover is flexibly movable to allow access to the compartment by the user. A belt receiving portion is positioned on a user side which is opposite the exposed side to prevent interference by the belt receiving portion during insertion and extraction of objects to and from the compartment.



Inventors:
Ross, Michael E. (Sherman, TX, US)
Hartranft, Bruce W. (St. Charles, IL, US)
Application Number:
09/945488
Publication Date:
03/06/2003
Filing Date:
08/30/2001
Assignee:
ROSS MICHAEL E.
HARTRANFT BRUCE W.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/674, 224/235
International Classes:
A45F5/00; (IPC1-7): A45F5/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20030111496Bottle carrier deviceJune, 2003Abbott
20050224546Cooler and folding chair holder for a vehicleOctober, 2005Rak
20090120979Tactical Spray Canister Deployment SystemMay, 2009Martinez
20080047994HOLDING SYSTEM FOR TRANSPORTING TWO WHEELED VEHICLESFebruary, 2008Beamer et al.
20080302842RATCHET TYPE POCKET CLIPDecember, 2008Hawk et al.
20050224538Carrying harness and method of useOctober, 2005Stewart
20030205593Backpack with integral raingearNovember, 2003Lavelle



Primary Examiner:
CRONIN, STEPHEN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Joel H. Bock (Chicago, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A pouch, comprising: first and second panels, one of the panels having an entry edge; a seam joining the first and second panels along a length and shape sufficient to define between the panels a compartment capable of holding objects, the seam having first and second terminating points which are spaced apart along the entry edge of said one panel such that at least a portion of the panels are not joined to one another along the entry edge, the first and second seam terminating points, defining between them an opening to the compartment; and a cover having side edges and an access edge, the side edges being attached to at least one of the panels such that the access edge overlies said one panel and the cover spans the opening.

2. The pouch of claim 1 wherein the access edge of the cover is spaced from the entry edge of said one panel.

3. The pouch of claim 1 wherein the seam comprises fastening means for attaching the first and second panels together.

4. The pouch of claim 3 wherein the seam further comprises a fold line between the first and second panels.

5. The pouch of claim 1 wherein the other of the first and second panels has an extension section that extends beyond the entry edge of said one panel.

6. The pouch of claim 1 further comprising a strap having a fixed end and a free end, the fixed end being connected to at least one of the cover or the other of said first and second panels, the free end being releasably fastened to said other of the first and second panels.

7. The pouch of claim 1 further characterized in that the other of said first and second panels has a main section generally coextensive with said one panel and an extension section joined to the main section and extending beyond the entry edge.

8. The pouch of claim 7 wherein the one panel and the main section of the other panel have side edges and the seam joins the side edges.

9. The pouch of claim 8 wherein the one panel and the main section of the other panel are connected at a fold line.

10. The pouch of claim 8 further comprising reinforcing tape disposed along the side edges.

11. The pouch of claim 10 further comprising reinforcing tape disposed along the entry edge.

12. The pouch of claim 1 further comprising at least one biasing member attached to the entry edge.

13. The pouch of claim 1 further comprising a belt loop fixedly attached to the other of the first and second panels.

14. The pouch of claim 13 further comprising at least one biasing member attached to the entry edge.

15. A pouch, comprising: (a) a first panel having an entry edge; (b) a second panel having first and second faces, the first panel being attached to the first face of the second panel to define a compartment having an opening at the entry edge; and (c) a belt receiving portion positioned on the second face of the second panel to prevent interference by the belt receiving portion during insertion and extraction of objects to and from the compartment.

16. The pouch of claim 15 further comprising a cover having side edges and an access edge, the side edges being attached to at least one of the panels such that the access edge overlies said first panel and the cover spans the opening.

17. The pouch of claim 16 wherein the belt receiving portion is formed as part of at least one of the second panel and the cover.

18. The pouch of claim 15 wherein the belt receiving portion is a strap.

19. The pouch of claim 18 wherein the strap has a fastener.

20. The pouch of claim 15 wherein the belt receiving portion is a belt loop.

21. The pouch of claim 15 further comprising a flexible cover being positioned at the top of the compartment and carried by at least one of the first and second panels, the cover closing the compartment opening to prevent objects placed within the compartment from spilling out of the opening, at least a portion of the cover being movable to allow access to the compartment by the user.

22. A pouch suitable for attachment to the belt of a user, comprising: first panel and a second panel joined together to define a compartment having an opening at the top thereof, the first panel being located on a first side of the second panel, a second side of the base member being opposite the first side and facing the belt of the user; a flexible cover attached to the second panel at the top of the compartment, the cover providing a passive restraint and closing the compartment opening to prevent spillage of objects placed within the compartment, at least a portion of the cover being movable to allow access to the compartment by the user; and a belt receiving portion being positioned on the second side of the base member to prevent interference by the belt receiving portion during insertion and extraction of objects to and from the compartment.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to portable carrying devices for use by workers such as electricians and carpenters. These products are variously referred to as supplies pouches, pocket pouches or supplies bags. Generally, a supplies pouch provides a lightweight, convenient way to carry numerous small supply items which are utilized by electricians, carpenters, workers or other users.

[0002] Tool pouches are generally inadequate for carrying numerous small objects because they have pockets or loops for carrying long and/or narrow tools. The pockets are too narrow to allow one's hand to reach small objects on the bottom of the pocket. Inverting or tipping the tool pouch can retrieve objects within those hard to reach areas, but this also causes the tools to spill out. The loops are completely inadequate for holding any small objects. On the other hand, tool boxes can hold numerous small objects but are too cumbersome and heavy for workers to carry on their belt.

[0003] In the alternative, it is common for supplies pouches to be used for carrying many small items or objects for easy and unencumbered access. The pouches are made of lightweight fabric which may be treated for water resistance. They provide a slim and compact pouch which is mountable to the belt of a user for quick and easy access. The front of the pouch has an open pocket which is large enough for users to insert their hand for placement and retrieval of objects. Examples of objects which are insertable into the pocket are wire connectors, cable staples, cable ties, nails, screws, nuts, tape, labels or other supply items from a variety of applications.

[0004] It has been found that a majority of workers desire an easy attachment to the belt which remains secure during the insertion and extraction of objects into and out of the pouch. Another desired feature is for the supplies pouch to be spill-resistant so as to avoid loss of objects contained within the pouch due to tilting, inverting or jostling of the pouch. The current supplies pouches fail in these respects.

[0005] Until now, prior art supplies pouches have hooked onto a user's belt by upwardly inserting and pulling a strap portion of a releasable belt loop located at the top of the pouch between the user's belt and his or her pants. The strap is pulled upwardly until enough of it is protruding above the belt. Then the strap is folded over the front of the belt and the end of the strap snaps onto the front of the pouch. Since the end of the strap and its snap are located on the front of the pouch, they end up interfering with the normal placement and retrieval of supplies to and from the pouch. These pouches have a tendency to become unfastened from the belt when the user pulls his or her hand out of the pouch when placing or retrieving supplies. Because of this, the user must be careful not to unfasten or unsnap the pouch as he or she pulls their hand out of the pouch. If the pouch unfastens, it may drop and spill its contents which leads us to the next problem.

[0006] Prior art pouches also have a tendency to spill their contents. The pocket is formed on the front of the pouch and has an opening at the top of the pocket through which objects are inserted and extracted. If there is no closure device, there is nothing to keep objects from spilling out. If there is a closure device, it is often a nuisance to open it and move it out of the way during repetitious retrieval of supplies from the pouch. Accordingly, the closure device often is left open entirely at which point it is, of course, inadequate to keep the objects from falling out of the pocket should the pouch be tilted, tipped or jostled. Spillage may occur at the most inappropriate times such as when the user bends over to retrieve other hardware or otherwise must maneuver into a position where the pouch is angled from it normal upright condition. Upon removal of the pouch from the user's belt, the contents may fall out when the pouch is set down on a horizontal surface or placed at an angle from the upright position of the pouch. In these cases, workers will either waste valuable time retrieving fallen objects, if recovery is even possible, or waste the fallen objects by not retrieving them.

[0007] In response, it is desired to have a supplies pouch which remedies these current failings. The present invention provides a belt-mounted pouch having a self-closing, spill-resistant opening and a releasable belt loop positioned so as not to interfere with use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention relates to an apparatus for carrying supplies and more specifically to a portable, belt-mounted pouch for carrying numerous small objects. A primary object of the invention is a pouch which mounts to the belt of a user without interfering with the placement and retrieval of objects into or out of the pouch. This invention also provides a pouch having a spill-resistant, self-closing access opening which allows the objects placed within the pouch to remain even when the pouch is tilted, inverted, jostled or the like.

[0009] The pouch includes first and second panels, each having side and bottom edges. The first panel further includes an entry edge. The panels lie adjacent one another and are joined along their edges at a seam that includes a fold line along the bottom edges. The seam has spaced terminating points at the entry edge of the first panel. This means the entry edge of the one panel is not fastened to the other panel. The joined panels define between them a compartment that capable of holding objects. The first and second seam terminating points define between them an opening to the compartment along the entry edge of the one panel. A cover has side edges and an access edge. The side edges are attached to one or both of the panels, preferably at the seam. The access edge of the cover overlies the one panel and the cover spans the opening. The overlapping cover is flexible so a user can easily move it out of the way when he or she needs to reach into the compartment. The cover also has sufficient resiliency to return to its normal, overlapping position after the user's hand is removed, wherein the cover closes the compartment opening and prevents objects from spilling out. No additional fasteners are required to keep the compartment closed.

[0010] The pouch is made of durable, flexible material which conforms to the shape of the user. The pouch may have a water-resistant, plastic lining or coating. It has a releasable strap that can be hooked or wrapped around a belt of the user or, alternatively, a belt can be threaded through a fixed belt loop. The strap or belt loop is attachable to a user's belt on the second or user side of the pouch so as to not interfere with the placement or extraction of objects in and out of the compartment on the first side of the pouch.

[0011] Other purposes may appear in the ensuing specification, drawings and claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] FIG. 1 is a front view of the pouch of the present invention with a portion of the cover broken away.

[0013] FIG. 2 is a side view of the pouch of FIG. 1.

[0014] FIG. 3 is a partial rear view of the pouch.

[0015] FIG. 4 is an enlarged section taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1.

[0016] FIG. 5 is a partial front view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 6 is a rear view of the pouch of FIG. 5, showing a fixed belt loop.

[0018] FIG. 7 is an enlarged section taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0019] FIGS. 1-4 show a pouch 10 according to the present invention. It is formed from a first or front panel 12, a second or rear panel 14 and a cover 16. The first panel 12 has a generally flat central portion 18 that merges at its left and right sides with flap portions 20. The flaps are folded over out of the plane of the central portion. The flaps 20 taper from a maximum width at the bottom to a minimum width at the top, as seen in FIG. 2. The central portion 18 terminates at the top at an entry edge 22. As best seen in FIG. 2, the central portion 18 merges with a bottom surface 24 at a fold line 26. The flaps 20 are sewn to the bottom surface 24 along a tuck or dart 28. Together the central portion 18, flaps 20 and bottom surface 24 impart a three-dimensional character to the first panel 12.

[0020] The second panel 14 has a generally rectangular main section 30 (FIGS. 3 and 4) whose edges are substantially contiguous with those of the first panel 12. At the upper end of the main section 30 there is a generally triangular extension section 32 that extends beyond the entry edge 22 of the first panel. At its apex the extension section 32 merges with an elongated strap 34. The bottom edge of the second panel's main section 30 joins the bottom surface 24 at a fold line 35. Thus, in a preferred embodiment all of the first and second panel components described thus far are made from a single sheet of fabric.

[0021] The cover 16 is made of a separate sheet of fabric. The cover has a generally triangular main section 36 having side edges 38 and an access edge 40. The apex of the main section 36 apex merges into an elongated strap 42. Thus, the edges 38 of the cover's main section 36 are substantially, though not entirely, contiguous with the edges of the extension section 32. Similarly, the edges of strap 42 match those of strap 34 of the second panel 14.

[0022] The first panel 12, second panel 14 and cover 16 are assembled as follows. A single sheet of fabric is cut to shape and folded along fold lines 26 and 35. The bottom of the flaps 20 are sewn to the edges of the bottom surface 24 to form the tucks 28. The side edges of the flaps 20 then lie adjacent the side edges of the second panel's main section 30. The central portion 18 of the first panel is then opposite the main section 30 of the second panel. The extension portion 32 of the second panel extends beyond the entry edge 22 of the first panel. Next the cover 16 is laid over the extension portion 32 with the side edges 38 of the main section 36 aligned with those of the extension section 32. Straps 42 and 34 are similarly aligned. The access edge 40 is below the entry edge 22 (as seen in FIGS. 1 and 4) so that the cover 16 overlaps the first panel 12.

[0023] The side edges of the components carry a cloth reinforcing tape 44 that is folded around the edges. The tape 44 is folded around all the edges of the fabric components of the pouch which would otherwise be exposed to fraying or the like. FIG. 4 best illustrates how the tape 44 is folded around the edges of the panels. This tape is a single piece that runs all the way around the perimeter of the pouch, except across the bottom surface. Thus, the tape joins: the side edges of the flaps 20 to the second panel's main section 30; the side edges of the cover's main section 36 to the second panel's extension section 32; and the side edges of the cover's strap 42 to the strap 34. The reinforcing tape is held in place by stitching 46. It should also be noted that the entry edge 22 carries its own reinforcing tape 48 held in place by stitching 50.

[0024] There is a fastener base 52 fastened to the cover's main section 36 and the second panel's extension section 32. This is located just above a stitch line 54 that secures the main section 36 to the extension section 32. A fastener cover 56 is carried by the straps 34 and 42. The cover 56 can be snapped onto and off of the base 52. When the cover and base of the fastener are connected together the straps define a loop which is sufficiently sized to receive the user's belt.

[0025] As just described the first and second panels 12, 14 are joined by a seam. The seam has a length and shape sufficient to define between the panels a compartment 58 (FIG. 4) capable of holding objects. The term seam as used herein includes any fastening means or joining method and includes a fold line. In this embodiment the seam includes stitching 46 and the fold line 35 along the bottom edge. The seam joining the first and second panels of course ends where these two panels no longer overlie one another. Thus, the seam has first and second terminating points 60A, 60B which are spaced apart at opposite ends of the entry edge 22 of the first panel. The first and second panels are not joined to one another along the entry edge 22. Thus, the first and second seam terminating points 60A, 60B define between them an opening 62 to the compartment 58, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 4.

[0026] Mounting of the pouch 10 to the user's belt is quickly and easily accomplished. While the user generally holds the pouch 10 in one hand, he or she holds their belt somewhat spaced away from the waist of their pant waistband with the other hand. While holding this position, the user downwardly inserts the distal or free end of the straps 34, 42 into the space between the belt and the pant. Once the distal end of the strap protrudes beyond a lower edge of the user's belt, the user pulls the distal end until the cover 56 of the fastener also clears the belt. The cover and base parts 56, 52 of the fastener are then lined up with each other in mating arrangement and secured underneath the belt. The straps define a loop large enough to comfortably receive a belt therein.

[0027] Once the pouch 10 is installed on a user's belt, the strap is positioned on the side of the pouch opposite the compartment 58 as best shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. The strap and its fastener do not interfere with the user as he or she uses a hand to either place or retrieve objects from the compartment 58. Because the fastener is located on the side of pouch opposite to the compartment 58 and adjacent the user, the fastener is not accidently unlatched during use.

[0028] The pouch 10 provides a spill-resistant container for carrying objects. As previously described, the flexible cover 16 overlaps the entry edge 22 so as to close the opening 62 and prevent objects from.falling out of the compartment 58. Users can place or retrieve objects within the compartment 58 by simply flexibly moving the middle portion of the cover 16 to allow their hand to reach into the compartment. First, the user inserts their hand underneath the access edge 40 of the cover 16. Then, the user's hand pries the entry edge 22 away from the second panel 14 to part and enlarge the opening 62. As the opening enlarges, the user can insert their hand into the compartment 58 to place or retrieve items within the compartment reaching as far down into the compartment as necessary. The user does not have to unfasten any securing devices in order to gain access to the compartment. Other than at the two terminating points 60A, 60B of the seam, the access edge 40 is not required to be secured to the first or second panels in order to keep objects from spilling out of the compartment. Instead the user can gain access to the compartment by guiding the access and entry edges 22, 40 apart.

[0029] Once the user is finished, the hand is extracted from the compartment 58 through the opening 62 and the opening begins to close. In other words, the pouch retains a “memory” of its previous position due to the overlapping arrangement of the cover over the first panel. The entry edge 22 of the first panel 14 tends to move back toward the second panel and thus close the opening 62. In this way, the pouch provides an opening which is repositionable to completely close the opening of the compartment.

[0030] The cover provides a passive restraint that resists spillage of objects out of the opening in the event that the pouch is inverted, tilted, tipped, jostled, shaken, or other like conditions. As best seen in FIG. 4, the cover creates a trap which defines a serpentine path into and out of the compartment 58. The trap catches objects which might otherwise tend to fall out of the opening 62. One example of a condition where this may occur is when the pouch is removed from the user's belt and placed on horizontal surfaces. In this case as well as others, objects which escape the compartment will be caught within the trap rather than falling out of the pouch.

[0031] The pouch 10 is spill-resistant to whatever supplies the user chooses to place within the compartment. The compartment 58 is suitable for storing numerous supplies and objects of different shapes and sizes for a myriad of different applications. Examples of such items include, but are not limited to, wire connectors, nails, nuts, screws, tape and a plethora of other objects depending on the needs of the user. The compartment itself defines a roomy environment which is wide enough and long enough for the user to insert their entire hand into the compartment and touch the inside bottom edge. The tucks help control the fullness of the compartment's volume.

[0032] The pouch is made of a durable flexible material or fabric. This allows the pouch to conform to the shape of the user when it is mounted on the belt. It allows the belt receiving section to be hooked or wrapped around the belt. It further allows the pouch to conform to the shape of whatever it is holding within the compartment. However, the pouch is not so flexible that it will fail to exhibit its memory characteristics that allow it to return to a position where the cover closes the opening. The ruggedness of the material or fabric achieves minimal wear even after long use. Although the preferred material of the pouch is nylon fabric, any type of material or fabric may be used. The material also preferably has a water resistant plastic lining or the like to protect the objects within the compartment from water or moisture.

[0033] The pouch may be made of a minimum amount of pieces which are folded over upon themselves at the edges as described above, but any number of pieces is possible. For example, the instead of the first and second panels being made of a single piece which is folded over onto itself, in the alternative, they may be made from separate pieces which are either directly or indirectly attached together by any securing method such as stitching, gluing, riveting or the like. The first panel and the cover may be carried either directly or indirectly by the second panel. For instance, additional layers made be attached between either the second panel and the first panel or the second panel and the cover. In addition, the straps could be made from separate pieces rather than the integral arrangement shown. Similarly, attachment may occur by any known method.

[0034] It is possible to mount the pouch 10 to the user's belt in other ways. In FIGS. 5-7, an alternate pouch 64 is similar to pouch 10, with like parts shown with like numbers, but pouch 64 has a belt receiving portion which includes a fixed belt loop 66 instead of releasable straps. The belt loop is located on the outside of the main section 30 so as to allow the user to mount the pouch on the belt without having the belt loop interfere with the user's interaction with the compartment located on the front side of the pouch.

[0035] Pouch 64 also has a pair of biasing members 68 and 70 at the compartment opening 62. The biasing member may be made of steel, plastic or elastic. The biasing member 68 is tucked inside the cover's reinforcing tape 44. An extra piece of reinforcing tape 72 (FIG. 7) may be positioned adjacent the opening 62 at the junction of the second panel's main section 30 and extension section 32. The characteristics of the steel or plastic strips are such that they allow flexing or kinking to hold the opening of the compartment open when directed by the user. The biasing member will correspondingly return to a flat state also when directed by the user. Where elastic strips are used, they allow stretching when the user inserts a hand into the compartment and retracting upon removal of the hand. While two biasing members are shown, alternately, a single biasing member could be disposed along one of the surfaces at the opening 62.

[0036] The invention also provides for a method of carrying objects using a spill resistant belt-mounted pouch. The method allows for placement or retrieval of objects within the compartment. First, the user uses a hand to flexibly move the cover in order to open the mouth of the compartment which is disposed on an exposed side of the pouch and then the user removes one or more objects from within the compartment. Upon extraction of the hand, the cover will tend to repositioned itself so as to completely enclose the compartment. In this way, the cover normally provides a passive restraint so as to prevent spillage of objects placed within the compartment. The method further includes the step of fastening the pouch to the user's belt on the side of the pouch which faces the user so as to prevent interference by the belt receiving portion during placement and extraction of objects within the compartment by the user.

[0037] While the preferred form of the invention has been shown and described, it is understood that there may be many modifications, substitutions and alterations thereto without departing from the scope of the claims. For example, other methods may be used to secure the pouch to the user's bell : including, but not limited to, clips, hooks, magnets, hook and loop fasteners such as Velcro, or other like methods. The end portions and reinforcing tape may be attached in any manner or method including adhesives, stitching or the like. As a further alternate embodiment the extension portion of the second panel could be detached from the main section and made part of the cover. In such an arrangement the cover and extension portion would be made of a single sheet folded over and attached to the first and second panels. This would most likely require use of a fixed belt loop instead of straps.