Title:
Athletic hydration pack
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable, hydration pack intended, in a preferred embodiment, for use within a back pack or similar receptacle is disclosed. A gel filled ice pack surrounding the bladder of the pack allows for chilling of the contents of the bladder. In a disposable embodiment, the hydration pack may be pre-packaged with an energy beverage concentrate. A flexible, thin walled, disposable, or semi-flexible straw, passing through the wall of the bladder or through the cap of an access cap, delivers a beverage from the pack to the mouth of a user without the need for bringing the container of the pack to the region of the mouth. In an alternate embodiment, a belt attached to the bladder allows a user to strap the pack around his waist or over his shoulder.



Inventors:
Bellucci, Randy A. (East Haddam, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/265310
Publication Date:
04/08/2004
Filing Date:
10/07/2002
Assignee:
BELLUCCI RANDY A.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
224/660
International Classes:
A45F3/20; A45F3/00; (IPC1-7): A45F3/16; A45F5/00; A45C1/04; F41C33/02; F42B39/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANTERPOOL, LESTER L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Randy Shay (Fairfax, VA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A hydration pack comprising: a pliable bladder, access means for filling said bladder with a potable liquid, and delivery means for conveying said potable liquid from within said bladder to the mouth of a user.

2. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, wherein said pliable bladder further comprises: a first wall and a second wall, said first wall and said second wall being joined along an upper end, a lower end and two sides, a void being formed therebetween.

3. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 2, wherein said pliable bladder is formed of a polymer.

4. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 3, wherein said first wall and said second wall are joined along said upper end, said lower end and said two sides by at least one method of the group: folding of a single piece of said polymer and heat welding of corresponding edges of said first wall and said second wall one to the other, heat welding of two separate pieces of said polymer, and blow molding of said polymer.

5. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 4, wherein said access means comprises a substantially cylindrical neck, being substantially hollow through the interior of the length thereof, having a proximal end and a distal end, said neck affixed to said first wall by a flange formed substantially normal to and proximate said proximal end, and a cap, adapted to matingly engage said distal end of said neck, substantially sealing said hollow interior of said neck.

6. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 5, wherein said flange is formed of a polymer.

7. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 6, wherein said neck is affixed to said bladder by heat welding.

8. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, wherein said delivery means comprises a flexible straw, said straw having a proximal end and a distal end, said straw adapted to pass through said bladder at a point proximate said upper end such that said proximal end of said straw may be raised to the mouth of a user and said distal end of said straw extends within said bladder to a point proximate said lower end.

9. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 8, wherein said passage of said straw through said bladder comprises one of the group: an aperture through said bladder adapted to snugly, slidably and removably receive said straw, and permanent affixment of said straw Lo said bladder at said aperture by a flange, said flange being substantially normal to the cylindrical surface of said straw at a point along the length of said straw.

10. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 9, wherein said aperture for receiving said removable straw is reinforced.

11. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 9, wherein said flange is affixed to said bladder by heat welding.

12. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, wherein said delivery means comprises a straw, said straw having a proximal end and a distal end, said straw adapted to pass through said cap such that said proximal end may be raised to the mouth of a user and said distal end extends within said bladder to a point proximate said lower end.

13. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 12, wherein said passage of said straw through said cap comprises one of the group: an aperture through said cap adapted to snugly, slidably and removably receive said straw, and a aperture through said cap adapted to rigidly and permanently receive said straw, and a aperture through said cap adapted to removeably receive an end of an upper straw section external to said cap and an end of a lower straw section internal to said cap.

14. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 13, wherein said aperture further comprises one of the group: a hollow nipple adapted to engage an interior surface of said straw and an adapter adapted to engage an exterior of said straw.

15. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 13, wherein said straw is a continuous, flexible tube.

16. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 15, wherein said straw further comprises an accordion pleat proximate said cap.

17. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, further comprising an ice pack formed around said bladder, said ice pack formed of a polymer and filled with a cold retentive gel for maintaining the contents of said bladder in a chilled state.

18. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 17, wherein said ice pack is removable from said bladder.

19. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, wherein the length of said two sides is greater than the length of said upper end and said lower end.

20. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, wherein the length of said two sides is less than the length of said upper end and said lower end.

21. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 19, further comprising: a belt, one half of said belt being attached at each of said two sides of said bladder such that said belt may be extended around the waist of a user and joined by a buckle proximate the front of said user such that said pack may be suspended from said waist of said user.

22. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 5, wherein said neck is affixed internal of said bladder, and said cap, when installed, is internal of said neck.

23. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 22, wherein said cap further comprises an aperture through a side thereof, said aperture adapted to receive an end of a straw, said straw adapted to be raised to the mouth of a user.

24. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 12 wherein said cap further comprises: a sump extending internal of said bladder, said sump maintaining said first side and said second side of said bladder apart from one another, thereby facilitating flow of a liquid therein in to flow without frictional resistance from said first side and said second side, and a nipple external of said cap, said nipple adapted to removably and frictionally receive a straw.

25. A hydration pack, as defined in claim 1, pre-packaged with one of the group: a liquid beverage and a powered, beverage concentrate adapted for rehydration by the user.

Description:

[0001] This application is related to Provisional United States Patent Application, serial No. 60/280,466, filed on Apr. 2, 2001.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to portable containers for the storage and carrying of potable liquids, adapted to be worn on the back of an individual. More particularly, the invention comprises a pliable bladder having a “gel pack” coolant surrounding the bladder surrounding the bladder for cooling the liquid therein.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Portable, wearable hydration packs have become a boon to many sports enthusiast, especially runners and cyclists who are constantly on the move. Hydration packs allow an individual to re-hydrate on the run, without the need to find liquids or stop to re-hydrate.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 6,039,305, issued to Matthew W. Hoskins, et al., on Mar. 21, 2000, presents a BITE VALVE FOR HYDRATION BLADDER. The valve of Hoskins, et al., is designed to mate with the free end of a tube mated to a hydration bladder, but in its invention is completely independent of any specific bladder. By contrast, the present invention is an inventive disposable hydration bladder and “gel pack”.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,913,456, issued to W. Cary Dikeman on Jun. 22, 1999, presents a PRESSURIZED PORTABLE DRINKING SYSTEM. Dikeman's system is a reusable bladder formed within a pack having straps for passing over the arms of the user. Chilling of a liquid within Dikeman's system must be by the introduction of ice into the bladder, the melting of which dilutes the liquid contained therein. The present invention is a disposable bladder intended for use with any type of pack. A freezable “gel pack” surrounding the bladder prevents dilution of the liquids contained within the bladder.

[0008] U.S. Pat. No. 5,722,573, issued to Christopher Paul Carnel on Mar. 3, 1998, presents a PORTABLE SYSTEM FOR DELIVERING A DRINKING BEVERAGE. A refillable bladder is removably housed in a pouch, the pouch either being slung over a user's shoulder or formed into an item of clothing. A tube feeds the liquid from the bladder to the user. Carnel makes no provision for chilling of the liquid other than by ice or refrigeration. The present invention, on the other hand, incorporates a double wall construction with a removable, reusable “gel pack” surrounding the bladder for chilling without diluting the liquid inside.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,328,069, issued to Bahram Cohanfard on Jul. 12, 1994, presents a VERSATILE BEVERAGE CONTAINER COVER, a removable cover for placing over a container such as a sports bottle, can or other beverage container. A strap on the cover is adapted to fit over the shoulders or around the neck of a user. A straw allows sipping of the beverage through the cover. Cohanfard provides no means for chilling the beverage, as does the present invention.

[0010] U.S. Pat. No. 4,852,781, issued to Car W. Shurnick, et al., on Aug. 1, 1989, presents a RUNNER'S PORTABLE FLUID SUPPLY CONTAINER, a bottle having a hollow, threaded cap with one port for a drinking tube and a second port for pressure equalization. The bottle is adapted to fit into a carrier which may be attached to the user's body. Again, Shurnick makes no provision for chilling of the contents of the container, other than by ice, which dilutes the beverage as it melts. By contrast, the present invention has a removable, freezable “gel pack” surrounding the bladder, which cools without diluting.

[0011] U.S. Pat. No. 4,544,087, issued to Ronald Modig on Oct. 1, 1985, presents a HOLDER FOR LIQUIDS. A pair of refillable bladders, one front and one rear, are mounted on a harness which fits over the shoulders of a user. A drinking tube draws liquid from both bladders simultaneously, thereby maintaining a balanced load between the two bladders. Once again, Modig makes no provision for chilling, while the present invention provides a removable, freezable “gel pack” surrounding the bladder.

[0012] None of the above inventions and patents, taken either singly or in combination, is seen to describe the instant invention as claimed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] Enthusiasts of sports requiring sustained physical exertion typically require re-hydration during the course of their activities. In the case of activities which are confined to a relatively small area and where players go into and out of play, such as football or soccer, fixed dispensing facilities, such as a water fountain or conventional coolers, are usually sufficient for dispensing re-hydrating fluids.

[0014] Enthusiasts who engage in activities, such as long distance running and cycling, which cover greater areas or linear distances do not find stationary re-hydration stations desirable, as they must either return to designated locations, have assistants pass them fluids as they pass a point, or stop to rehydrate. Therefore, wearable hydration packs have been found to be desirable by these individuals.

[0015] To date, hydration packs have typically been a single bladder which may be filled with a fluid and, if desired, ice, to chill the fluid. This arrangement presents no problems if the fluid is water, but if the fluid is something of the nature of Gatoraid® or other sports drink, the melting ice dilutes the fluid, thereby diluting its taste and potency. A method of cooling the fluid without diluting it is, therefore, desirable.

[0016] The present invention comprises a disposable bladder, surrounded by a freezable “gel pack” coolant pouch. The disposable bladder may be easily carried in any typical back pack. In a second embodiment, the disposable bladder may be formed with a belt for attachment around the waist of a user. The inventive bladder may be pre-filled with a powdered beverage concentrate for re-hydration by the user. The disposable nature of the inventive bladder eliminates the possibility of mold or other bacteria from growing in an inadequately cleansed bladder.

[0017] Accordingly, it is a principal object of the invention to provide a hydration pack which may be easily carried by an individual.

[0018] It is another object of the invention to provide a hydration pack which will easily fit into a conventional back pack.

[0019] It is a further object of the invention to provide a hydration pack in which a liquid may be cooled without dilution by melting ice.

[0020] Still another object of the invention is to provide a hydration pack which may be marketed pre-filled with a powdered beverage concentrate.

[0021] An additional object of the invention is to provide a hydration pack which is disposable.

[0022] It is again an object of the invention to provide a hydration pack which is leakproof.

[0023] Yet another object of the invention is to provide a hydration pack which is lightweight.

[0024] Still another object of the invention is to provide a hydration pack which is economical.

[0025] An additional object of the invention is to provide a hydration pack which is sanitary.

[0026] It is an object of the invention to provide improved elements and arrangements thereof in an apparatus for the purposes described which is inexpensive, dependable and fully effective in accomplishing its intended purposes.

[0027] These and other objects of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0028] Various other objects, features, and attendant advantages of the present invention will become more fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0029] FIG. 1 is an environmental perspective view of a first embodiment of the inventive hydration pack.

[0030] FIG. 2 is an environmental perspective view of a second embodiment of the inventive hydration pack.

[0031] FIG. 3 is a cross sectional view of the inventive hydration pack at line 2-2 of FIG. 1.

[0032] FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a preferred embodiment of the cap for the inventive hydration pack.

[0033] FIG. 5 is an environmental perspective view of a waist belt embodiment of the inventive hydration pack.

[0034] FIG. 6 is a cross sectional side view of an optional low profile cap and straw system embodiment for the inventive hydration pack.

[0035] FIG. 7 is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the cap of the inventive hydration pack.

[0036] FIG. 8 is a cross sectional side view of a second alternate embodiment of the cap of the inventive hydration pack.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0037] Referring first to FIG. 1, the bladder 10 of the inventive hydration pack 1 is a substantially rectilineal bag having a first wall 12, a second wall 14, an upper end 16, a lower end 18, and two sides. First wall 12 and second wall 14 are formed of a polyethylene, polypropylene or similar polymeric material, preferably of a biodegradable formulation, with seams 20 formed around the perimeter thereof joining first wall 12 and second wall 14 by heat welding or other method, joining methods for polymer being well known in the art. It would be evident to one skilled in the art that first wall 12 and second wall 14 could be formed from a single sheet of polymer folded such that the fold would form one length of a seam 20 or that first wall 12 and second wall 14 could be of a double ply construction for increased resistance to tear or abrasion. It would be further evident that bladder 10 could be formed by other methods known to the art, such as blow molding. A round neck 22 is situated in first wall 12 of bladder 10 proximate upper end 16. A flange 24, normal to the walls of neck 22, allows neck 22 to be affixed to first wall 12 of bladder 10 by heat welding or other joining method, as are well known in the art. A cap 26 engages neck 22 to selectively open and seal the opening of neck 22. It would be evident to one skilled in the art that neck 22 and cap 26 could be threaded for mutual cooperation or cooperate frictionally.

[0038] In a first, basic embodiment illustrated at FIG. 1, a flexible straw 28 is formed through bladder 10, extending internally from a point proximate upper end 16 to a point proximate lower end 18. Straw 28 extends external of bladder 10 for a length sufficient to be easily grasped in the mouth of a user. Straw 28 could pass freely through an aperture, preferably reinforced by an additional layer of polymer, in bladder 10, but would, preferably, be permanently joined to bladder 10 by a method such as, but not limited to heat welding of a flange. In the embodiment of FIG. 1, straw 28 would preferably be a simple, flexible, recyclable tube and the bladder would typically be disposable and recyclable in its entirety. In alternative embodiments, as depicted at FIG. 2, straw 28 could be formed through the top of cap 26, in which case bladder 10 could be disposable and cap 26 and straw 28 either reusable or disposable and recyclable.

[0039] Referring now to FIG. 3, hydration pack 1 may, optionally, further comprises an ice pack 40 formed around bladder 10. Ice pack 40 is formed by the addition of a third wall 42 and a fourth wall 44 of a material like or similar to that forming first wall 12 and second wall 14 surrounding bladder 10 and joined thereto along seams 20. The voids of ice pack 40 formed between bladder 10 and third wall 42 and fourth wall 44 is filled with a gel 46 which may be chilled or frozen prior to the introduction of a liquid into bladder 10. The gel 46 in ice pack 40 is not deemed to be a part of the present invention, as a variety of formulations are known in the art, and, therefore, will not be discussed in further detail. It would be evident to one skilled in the art that ice pack 40 may, optionally, be formed on only one side of bladder 10, or completely surrounding bladder 10, as illustrated. It would be further evident to one skilled in the art that ice pack 40 could be commercially available ice packs removably held within the void formed between first side 12 and third wall 42 and second wall 14 and fourth wall 44 without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Hydration pack 1 may, optionally, be marketed pre-packaged with an energy beverage concentrate 50 within bladder 10 (FIG. 3).

[0040] In order to more fully drain the bladder 10, neck 22 would, preferably, be formed proximate lower end 18 of bladder 10, as illustrated at FIG. 4. In this preferred embodiment, a cap 126, having a raised, perimetric area 128 engages neck 22. A sump 132 extends from the interior of raised perimetric area 128 through the aperture of neck 22, extending into the interior of bladder 10. A nipple 134 extends upwardly from the bottom interior of sump 132, rising toward the exterior of bladder 10. The depth of sump 132 tends to hold first side 12 and second side 14 (FIG. 1) of bladder 10 apart, thereby allowing the fluids within to reach sump 132 without having to over come the friction between first side 12 and second side 14 as the fluid is depleted.

[0041] The mouth 142 of a straw 140 removably and frictionally engages nipple 134. An accordion pleated 144 section of straw 140 proximate the mouth 142 allows straw 140 to bent at a sharp angle without pinching off the flow of fluids, thereby allowing hydration pack 1 to be carried in a variety of different back packs.

[0042] Referring now to FIG. 5, an embodiment of the inventive hydration pack adapted for wearing around a users waist is presented. A disposable bladder 200 is formed, much as bladder 10, discussed hereinbefore. However, bladder 200 has a generally horizontal profile as opposed to the vertical profile of bladder 10. Additionally, bladder 200 has a relatively flat upper surface containing a neck 222 having a cap 226. A straw 228 is formed as in any of the embodiments of straw 28. Straw 228 may be either jointed or flexible. A belt 230 is attached at each of the two ends of bladder 200 by means such as, but not limited to heat welding, each of the two ends of belt 230 having one element each of a mateable buckle 232. Belts and buckles are well known in the art, and the design of belt 230 and buckle 232 are not deemed to be an integral part of the present invention.

[0043] In FIG. 6, neck 322 is recessed into bladder 10. Cap 326, when installed, is substantially recessed into bladder 10. Straw 328 is formed through the side wall of cap 326 such that it lays substantially parallel to the wall of bladder 10.

[0044] A cap having a bayonet lock and nipple straw fitting is illustrated at FIGS. 7 and 8. Neck 422 rises above the surface of bladder 10 and has at least one bayonet style locking tab 430, either externally, as illustrated in FIG. 7, or internally, as illustrated in FIG. 8. Cap 426 has at least one locking slot 432 adapted to engage locking tab 430. FIG. 8 depicts a lip 434 around the perimeter of cap 326 overlying the end of neck 422. A hollow nipple 436 extends from the center of cap 426, allowing the outer portion of straw 28 to be attached thereto.

[0045] A flow control valve (not shown), located at the free end of straw 28 prevents the liquid contained in bladder 10 from flowing freely from straw 28 until the valve is opened. A variety of mouth operated flow control valves are known in the art which could be effectively used with the present invention. The valve is not deemed to be an integral part of the present invention, and will not be further disclosed in detail.

[0046] As has heretofore been stated, the inventive hydration pack may be manufactured of materials of a quality to make it reusable, but the primary intent is that, for sanitation reasons, the bladder be disposable. The cap and straw may be of either an inexpensive, disposable, recyclable nature or of substantial, reusable materials. Furthermore, the inventive hydration pack could be marketed solely as an empty pack, pre-filled with a liquid beverage or pre-filled with a powdered beverage mix for re-hydration by the user.

[0047] It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiments described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.