Title:
Collapsible insulated cooler
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A collapsible insulated cooler case includes a sandwich construction of fabric and cell foam material forming the panel walls of the container and further includes front binding straps that hold the case in a collapsed condition. The binding straps extend from the front flap of the cooler over the bottom and engage with companion straps on the back side of the cooler case. Alternatively, the front binding straps are used to hold the container top panel in the closed position.



Inventors:
Redzisz, Andrezj M. (Wheeling, IL, US)
Deutsch, Henry (Winnetka, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/054054
Publication Date:
07/24/2003
Filing Date:
01/22/2002
Assignee:
Travel Caddy, Inc. d/b/a Travelon (Des Plaines, IL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45C7/00; A45C3/00; A45C11/20; (IPC1-7): A45C11/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PICKETT, JOHN G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BANNER & WITCOFF, LTD. (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A collapsible, insulated cooler case comprising, in combination: a rectangular, parallelepiped assembly of five insulated rectangular wall panels forming an enclosure with an open top and including a bottom side, a front side, a back side and opposite end sides, said sides joined at connecting side edges, the bottom side and end sides being foldable and collapsible; said assembly further including a top side attached at one edge to the back side and foldable over the open top; said top side including a free edge generally parallel to and spaced from the said one edge; a first connector member extending from the free edge; and a second flexible connector member attached to the back side and extendable over the bottom side for connection to the first connector member, whereby the bottom side and opposite end sides may be retained in a collapsed and folded mode by connecting the first and second connector members.

2. The case of claim 1 further including a storage pouch on the back side, said second connector member attached at one end inside the pouch.

3. The case of claim 1 further including at least two generally parallel spaced first and second connector members for retaining the cooler case in a collapsed and folded mode.

4. The cooler case of claim 1 wherein the top flap includes a first portion congruent with the bottom side when the cooler case is in a fully open mode and further including an overlapping portion which overlaps part of the front side of the cooler case in said fully open mode, said first connector members being attached to the overlapping portion.

5. The cooler case of claim 4 further including a front side connector member connectable with the first connector member in the said fully open mode to retain the top flap closed over the open top.

6. The cooler case of claim 1 further including a shoulder strap connecting the opposite end sides.

7. The cooler case of claim 1 further including a carry handle on the outside of the top flap.

8. The cooler case of claim 1 wherein the second connector member is adjustable in length.

9. The cooler case of claim 1 wherein the connector members each comprise a flexible strap and buckle.

10. The cooler case of claim 1 wherein the first connector member is adjustable in length.

11. The cooler case of claim 1 wherein the bottom side is comprised of a rectangular panel foldable along a middle seam to define first and second semi-panels, said sides including an outer fabric layer, an intermediate insulating cell foam layer, and an inner fabric layer, said bottom layer further including first and second separate reinforcing, generally rigid semi-plates for the first and second panels respectively, said flexible inner fabric retaining the semi-plates and cell foam therebetween, said bottom side cell foam including a middle seam score line.

12. The cooler case of claim 11 including a single boundary stitch seam for connecting the outer and inner fabric layers together along the junction of the back side and bottom side, the opposite end side and bottom side, the opposite end sides and front side and the top side.

13. The cooler case of claim 11 including a cell foam layer comprised of closed cell foam and open cell foam layers.

14. The cooler case of claim 11 including an inner lining of liquid impervious fabric.

15. The cooler case of claim 11 wherein the middle seam score line is a stitched seam.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] In a principal aspect the present invention relates to a collapsible insulated cooler which may be utilized as a lunch container, but may be manufactured in various sizes for multiple uses.

[0002] Insulated containers are generally comprised of plastic materials stitched together including an inner and outer plastic layer with a foam insulating layer therebetween. For purposes of shipping and display, it is desirable to provide insulated container constructions which are collapsible. Heretofore, there have been various patents which disclose constructions for such insulated containers.

[0003] Such containers are quite useful, but may be difficult to collapse for purposes of storage or display. Additionally, such containers may, because of their design, be bulky and cumbersome. Finally, such containers may not have a design which enables them to remain leak proof.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] Briefly, the present invention comprises an improved collapsible insulated cooler in the form of a rectangular parallelepiped enclosure having a bottom side and opposite end sides, all three of which are easily folded wherein a strap associated with a top closure flap can be used in combination with a secondary strap to fit around the collapsed cooler case. Further, the specific construction of the collapsible insulated cooler includes cell foam materials, particularly in the bottom side, which is scored to facilitate folding of the bottom side. Also, the collapsible container is fabricated from inside and outside layers of fabric material which are fastened or stitched together to form the six sided container by a single continuous stitch and binding along an outside edge of the container. Thus, the stitch and binding form a closed loop joining the component inner and outer layers of material forming the walls of the container. The insulated cooler case further includes an internal flexible, sealed, plastic bag or sack which avoids the use of thread sewn seams, but rather includes heat sealed component parts thereby enhancing the ability of the case to avoid leakage.

[0005] Thus, it is an object of the invention to provide an improved, collapsible insulated cooler case.

[0006] It is a further object of the invention to provide an improved collapsible insulated cooler case having an insulating material sandwiched between inside and outside fabric layers.

[0007] It is a further object of the invention to provide a collapsible, insulated cooler case wherein the inside and outside fabric panels are coupled together to form a rectangular parallelepiped foldable case having a first closed loop binding seam, two separate subsections, and a second seam for joining the remaining sides of one of the subsections.

[0008] Another object of the invention is to provide a collapsible, insulated cooler case having a top side with connector members that fold over the front and bottom of the cooler case and connect with connector members attached to the back side of the cooler case to hold the cooler in the collapsed condition.

[0009] Yet another object of the invention is to provide a collapsible, cooler case which utilizes connector members, or connector straps, associated with the top flap of the case for closing the top flap as well as for holding the cooler case in a compressed, collapsed mode or condition.

[0010] Yet another object of the invention is to provide a collapsible insulated cooler case which includes a bottom side construction that is foldable yet maintains its structural integrity and shape when the case is fully opened.

[0011] Yet another object of the invention is to provide an economical, rugged, easy to use and highly functional collapsible, insulated cooler case.

[0012] These and other objects, advantages and features of the invention will be set forth in the detailed description which follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

[0013] In the detailed description which follows, reference will be made to the drawing comprised of the following figures:

[0014] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the case in the closed, yet fully assembled, condition or mode;

[0015] FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 1 wherein the top flap and side of the case have been moved to the open position to view the interior or contents of the case;

[0016] FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 1 as viewed from the back and bottom sides;

[0017] FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 3 in a partially collapsed position;

[0018] FIG. 5 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 4 in a further collapsed condition wherein straps attached to the back side are positioned for engagement with straps attached to the front flap and side;

[0019] FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 5 as viewed from the top and front sides;

[0020] FIG. 7 is an isometric view of the back side of the case wherein the straps attached thereto are engaged with straps associated with the top flap and front side;

[0021] FIG. 8 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 7 as viewed from the front side;

[0022] FIG. 9 is a partial cutaway view of the carrying case of FIG. 1;

[0023] FIG. 10 is an isometric view of the carrying case of FIG. 1 in the partially collapsed condition;

[0024] FIG. 11 is a cross sectional enlarged view of the bottom side and front and back side construction of the case of FIG. 10;

[0025] FIG. 12 is an enlarged cross sectional and isometric view of the case of FIG. 10;

[0026] FIG. 13 is an isometric view of a prior art collapsible case construction;

[0027] FIG. 14 is an isometric view of the case construction of FIG. 13 in the collapsed condition positioned for engagement by straps to maintain the case in the collapsed condition;

[0028] FIG. 15 is the opposite side isometric view of FIG. 14; and

[0029] FIG. 16 is an isometric view of the case of FIG. 15 in the closed or collapsed condition illustrating the manner in which it is maintained in that condition.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0030] Referring to the figures, and in particular FIGS. 1-12, the collapsible insulated cooler case of the invention is comprised of a first flexible fabric section 10 and a second flexible fabric section 12. The flexible fabric sections, or subsections, 10 and 12 may be fabricated from plastic materials, fabric materials, or any similar flexible sheet material. The first section 10 comprises an outer layer 11 of material and an interior companion or counterpart congruent layer 14. Similarly, the section 12 comprises an outer sheet or layer 13 and a counterpart, congruent layer or strip of material 16. The layers or strips of material 11 and 14, as well as the layers or strips 13 and 16, are fabricated so that there is a space therebetween into which insulating materials, such as foam cell material 18 in FIG. 11, is inserted and maintained. Typically, the foam cell material 18 is defined by an open cell material 20 adjacent the outside layer 11 or 13 and a closed cell material 22 adjacent the inside layer of material 14 or 16. The outside layer 11 and its associated inside layer 14 form a front wall 24 and opposite end walls 26 and 28 of the collapsible, generally rectangular, parallelepiped container. The other flexible fabric layers 13 and 16 form a bottom wall 30, a back side wall or panel 32, a top side wall or panel 34, and a front depending flap 36.

[0031] The panels, or walls defined by the two subsections 10, 12, are all joined together by two stitched seams and binding material associated therewith. One of these stitched seams is a closed loop seam. Thus, a closed loop seam 40 extends across the boundary of the front side 24 where it is joined to the bottom side 30. Seam 40 then extends along the boundary of the bottom side 30 and end side 26, thence along the boundary of the back side 32 and end side 26, the boundary of the inner and outer layers of the top side 34 and flap 36, and then the side boundary of the backside 32 and opposite end sides 28, and finally along the boundary between the end side 28 and bottom side 30. As depicted in FIG. 11, this seam 50 may include a binding element, or ribbon, 52. The seam 50 thus is a closed loop seam connecting in the entirety the layers 10 and 14, as well as the inner and outer layers 12 and 16.

[0032] A second seam 54 joins the inner and outer layers 13 and 14, respectively, and forms a continuous seam 54 along the top of end side 26, a seam 56 along the top of front side 24 and a seam 58 connected along the top of side 28. The seams 54 and 58 connect at their terminus to the binding or seam 50. In this manner, two seams 50, 54 are required to assemble the entire container and encapsulate the cell foam material 18 between the layers of fabric material 11, 12, 13, 14 forming the case or container.

[0033] Additionally, and preferably, an internal formed sack, for example, a sack 60 made from heat sealed plastic material may be sewn in a manner which enables it to fit within the interior of the case as depicted in FIG. 11. The boundary between the back side 32 and the bottom side 30 may also include a stitched seam 70 to further facilitate the structural integrity of the container or case.

[0034] Preferably, the bottom side 30 is divided into first and second equally sized panels 72 and 74 which have a shape and configuration defined by semi-rigid or rigid plate members 76 and 78, respectively, positioned between the layers 13 and 16, again as depicted in FIG. 11. A mid seam, score line or stitch 80 may be provided and defined between the plates 76 and 78 to facilitate the folding of the bottom panel 30 into distinct panels 72, 74 such as depicted in FIG. 10.

[0035] A zipper 82 provides access to an outside pocket 84 in the back side 32 of the case or container. First and second connector members 86 and 88 positioned respectively on adjustable length straps 90 and 92 may be stored in the pocket 84, and may be released from the pocket 84 to hold the case in a fully collapsed mode or condition as described hereinafter. That is, straps 100 and 102 associated with connectors 104 and 106 on the front flap or front side of the collapsible container cooperate with the connectors 86 and 88, respectively, to close and bind the collapsible container in the closed condition such as depicted in FIG. 8. The connectors 104 and 106 have an additional function or purpose in that they may be utilized to engage with connectors 110 and 112 attached to the front panel 24 of the container to hold the top side 34 and flap 36 in the closed condition thereby maintaining the contents of the case within the case when the case is in its fully open or non-collapsed mode. A shoulder strap 114 is provided for attachment to the opposite ends, sides 26 and 28 of the case to facilitate carrying of the case.

[0036] FIGS. 13-16 illustrate a prior art construction which also provides a means for maintaining a collapsible case in a fully closed position. In this construction, lateral straps, such as straps 120 and 122, are provided on the inside of a top flap 124. The straps 120 and 122 each include hook or loop fastening elements 126 which engages with and holds against a hook and loop fastening element 128 on back side 130 of the container. In this manner, as depicted in FIGS. 15 and 16, the container may be retained in a collapsed condition. This is considered to be an awkward arrangement and visually unattractive. Additionally, the hook and loop material has been known to catch and snag fabrics potentially causing damage to clothing, car seats, etc.

[0037] By contrast with the subject matter of the present invention, the collapsible container or case is easily collapsed and physically maintained in fully collapsed condition in a more attractive, positive fashion. Because of the internal construction and stitching features of the invention, the carrying case is more rugged and provides improved insulating characteristics. Variations of the construction may be adopted, however, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the invention is to be limited only by the following claims and equivalents thereof.