Waterproof, thermally insulated undergarment for protection from sitting on wet or cold surfaces
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The present invention is a protective undergarment having an outer layer of a breathable waterproof fabric and an inner layer of a thermally insulated non-absorbent synthetic fabric. The purpose for the invention is to provide protection for skiers and others from sitting on wet, cold or snow covered surfaces. The undergarment, worn inside the outer pants of the user, is held in place by detachable elastic straps at the waist and above each knee. The undergarment only covers the user's crotch and posterior, from the waist down each leg to just above the knee.

Smith, Paul Gordon (Spokane, WA, US)
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International Classes:
A41B9/00; A41D13/05; (IPC1-7): A41C1/00
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Primary Examiner:
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Paul G. Smith (Spokane, WA, US)
1. An undergarment which provides protection from sitting on wet or cold surfaces comprised of an outer layer of breathable waterproof fabric and a thermally insulating inner layer of a non-absorbent fabric, designed to cover only a user's crotch and posterior, from the waist down each leg to just above the knee, and which is held in place by detachable straps fastened at the user's waist and above each knee.

2. The undergarment of claim 1 wherein the breathable waterproof outer layer is comprised of a synthetic fabric selected from a class of waterproof breathable fabrics that include treated nylon or polyester or a fabric wherein a waterproof, breathable film is bonded to a durable synthetic fabric.

3. The undergarment of claim 1 wherein the inner insulating layer is comprised of a non-absorbent fabric selected from a class of synthetic fabrics that include pile or fleece.

4. The undergarment of claim 1 wherein the detachable straps are comprised of elastic bands, which are attached at the waist to create a waist belt and are attached just above the knees at the bottom to create leg straps.

5. The elastic straps of claim 4 to be attached by stitching at one end and held in place by hook and loop fasteners at the other end, so as to completely encircle the user's waist and each leg when closed.

6. The elastic straps of claim 4 to be enclosed within a tube formed by folding and stitching the undergarment fabric over the elastic without further attaching the elastic so that it may stretch within the tube.



I claim priority to Provisional Utility Application:

    • Application No. 60/517,933
    • Filing date: Nov. 6, 2003


The present invention is a garment designed to be worn inside a user's clothing of choice. The undergarment covers primarily the crotch, buttocks and backside of the thighs and is intended for skiers and others, to provide protection from cold and moisture as a result of sitting on wet, snowy or icy surfaces.

The materials I chose for construction include a combination of an inner surface of a synthetic, non-absorbent fleece to provide thermal insulation and an outer surface of a breathable, waterproof fabric to prevent water absorption from wet outer clothing. The undergarment is held in place by elastic straps, which are closed with hook and loop fasteners. One elastic strap attaches like a belt around the user's waist, and one for each leg, attach just above the knee.


The present invention relates to garments designed for the protection of a user against the elements, specifically wet and cold seating.

I have been a skier for over forty years and served on the National Ski Patrol for thirty years. Weather conditions in the mountains, and especially where I live in the Pacific Northwest, very often can cause chair lift seats to be wet and cold due to being covered with water, snow, or ice. If you sit on water, snow, or ice, whatever you are wearing quickly becomes wet and cold.

Most pants made of waterproof fabrics do not offer complete protection, because when seated, pressure forces any water that is on the seat through even these fabrics. I have talked to many skiers over the years who shared my complaint, that the only place outer clothing fails, is the back of their pants, the area that gets wet from sitting on wet or snow covered chair lifts.

I decided to solve the problem. In 1983 I designed a prototype of my invention for my own use only. Designed nearly identical to my current model, the undergarment worked perfectly. After my first use, modifications were made to achieve a closer fit. I have personally used the undergarment repeatedly, year after year, and while riding on snow or water covered chair lifts, even though my outer pants became wet and cold, my invention performed as it was intended to. It kept my buttocks, crotch, lower legs, and underwear, warm and dry. I have made very appropriate use of my invention in other situations besides skiing. It provided warm, dry and cushioned seating on wet, cold and hard aluminum stadium bleachers at the winter Olympics.

The present invention uses the minimum amount of material necessary, thus it easily fits under any pants a user may wear; even close fitting stretch ski pants. The undergarment always remains in place and is comfortable all day. Since I made the undergarment in a way that is easy to put on or take off, it has been very convenient to use.

The present invention would also provide excellent protection for many other users, especially for snowboarders, who besides riding wet chair lifts, sit on the snow when resting or adjusting their equipment. Snowmobilers, hunters, fishermen, football fans, construction workers, or anyone who may have to sit on a wet, cold or hard surface would be equally protected in the same fashion by my invention.

I am aware of two other types of ski accessory products designed to solve the same wet and cold pant problem caused by sitting on snow covered or wet chair lift seats. Both differ significantly from my invention in that they are worn on the outside, rather than the inside of a user's pants.

Several prior inventions, (Kosmas, Paulette U.S. Pat. No. 4,459,703 Jul. 17, 1984) (Zinkevicz, Scott U.S. Pat. No. 5,271,659 Dec. 21, 1993) (Kaplan, Robert U.S. Pat. No. 4,689,829) (Richer, Steven U.S. Pat. No. 4,955,665 Sep. 11, 1990), which I will commonly refer to as “flap-type” designs, are flap configurations of waterproof fabric or material, which are attached to a user's waist with a belt. They are intended to be rolled or pulled down before sitting, then folded or pulled up when not in use. Recently, this flap-type design was produced using a nylon-wrapped foam pad with a waist belt. This style would not allow the product to be rolled up when not in use. The product also appears to have no patent. In past years, I have seen only a few skiers use any flap-type product. All of these prior inventions are worn over the user's outer clothing; none of them are, or could be used as an undergarment.

The other prior invention is trademarked as “Hot Buns” and is not patented. Although it more resembles my invention, with attachments at the waist and above each knee, and a contoured shape, it is designed as an outer garment to only be worn over a user's pants. Also, except for the attached belt, it is made entirely of Neoprene, which performs significantly different from my choice of materials. As with the flap-type invention, the user is instructed to roll the Hot Buns around his or her belt when not in use. Very few of these items appear to be in use, and the primary reason must be because they are worn on the outside of the user's pants and must be rolled up before each ski run to avoid distracting from the their appearance or becoming wet or snow covered. I have never seen any snowboarder wear any flap-type product on the outside of his or her pants.

My invention is an advantage over Hot Buns and the flap-type design products for several reasons.

Skiers and other snow sport enthusiasts want both function and style in their clothing. Although Hot Buns and the flap-type design products can provide protection while seated on a chair lift, they make a user's clothing look unusual while skiing if they are not rolled up. Rolling either product up and down for each ski run could require first removing, then replacing, the user's gloves, jacket, and the protective item. Since this would take a lot of time away from skiing—it would not be a popular choice. My invention allows the user to wear any type of outer pants and it is never noticed. With my invention in place, the appearance of a user's ski or snowboard outfit is not ruined. There is no need to roll, fold, or do anything with my invention once it is in place. My invention is out of sight and not uncomfortable to wear, so there is little need to remove it when not needed.

Since my invention can be easily slipped on or off without a user having to completely remove his or her pants, it can be put on just before skiing and removed after skiing. Unlike Hot Buns or the flap-type design products, there is no need to roll my invention up and down or store it elsewhere when not needed.

A very significant advantage of my invention since it is worn inside a user's outer pants, is that it cannot collect snow in a fall or billow with wind when skiing fast. The Hot Buns and the flap-type design products, however, could become cold or wet if left in place while skiing or snowboarding. As a result of a fall or from skiing in very deep snow, the Hot Buns product could easily become filled with snow, which would cause the user's clothing to also get wet and cold, defeating its purpose. The flap-type design products are attached only at the waist, which would allow wind, snow, and moisture to come in contact with the user's outer pants and the protective item.

Skiers who have tried the flap-type design product have told me that they are difficult to keep in place when loading a moving chair lift, as the flap does not stay in place unless you hold it against your legs as you sit. When preparing to board a chair lift, skiers use one hand to hold their ski poles and the other to reach for the chair as it approaches, to steady it and help ensure that they are properly aligned and sit at the exact right moment. Therefore, if a skier uses his or her free hand to hold the flap rather than the approaching chair, the loading process becomes less secure and the situation becomes a safety risk. An additional objection to the flap-type design products is that if they are not rolled back up prior to starting a ski run, the wind catches them when skiing and they flap around, which is an annoyance and distracts from the user's appearance. These would never be issues with my invention, as it is always in place—inside the user's pants.

As explained, a user of Hot Buns or the flap-type design product could end up with both the protective item and his or her outer clothes wet due to falling, skiing in deep snow or weather conditions. If that occurs, then when they again sit on a chair lift or any seat, they will begin to feel the wet and cold in their outer pants. This cannot occur with my invention as it is designed to provide protection from cold or wet outer pants. The waterproof outer layer and thermally insulated inner layer stop both moisture cold from penetrating to the user.

If a user of Hot Buns gets wet pants either before attaching them or due to snow inside of them as described above, the user may have to take off the Hot Buns to let their pants dry. This is because Neoprene, which Hot Buns are made from, will not allow moisture to evaporate through them; they are totally waterproof and non-breathable. My invention would provide immediate protection even if it were put on under wet pants. If the user was wearing underwear, which had become wet, my invention could allow the underwear to possibly dry out, as the synthetic fleece and breathable waterproof outer fabric used in my invention allow evaporation to occur.

Oftentimes ski lift chairs and other seating such as in outdoor stadiums are not only cold and wet, but are hard and uncomfortable. An additional advantage of my invention is that it provides an extra cushion against hard or uncomfortable seating. This is particularly provided by the fleece inner layer that has a natural loft, which resists crushing.

Because my invention is worn inside a user's pants, it is protected against abrasion and wear, which prolongs its performance. The Hot Buns and the flap-design products are exposed to wear and soiling, which can reduce their functioning life and appearance.

Both the flap-type design and the Hot Buns products are designed to only be worn as outer garments. The argument could be made that a user could, if the or she wanted to, wear these products inside their pants. This could be said of many combinations of materials, but they would not be comfortable and would not perform as intended or anywhere near as well as my invention.

Two other prior inventions classified as outer apparel (Ekland, Jan U.S. Pat. No. 5,101,514 Apr. 7, 1992) and (Baacke, Dennis and Flashinski, Sharon U.S. Pat. No. 5,896,582 Apr. 27, 1999) addressed additional protection from sitting on wet or cold surfaces. The Ekland invention is a jacket with a concealed flap of material, which can be pulled into position before sitting and pulled back into the jacket with hidden cords. The Baacke invention is “an outerwear garment having a waterproof seat.” These are pants that resemble bib overalls and the waterproof seat is accomplished by using an insert designed just for these pants. These prior inventions differ primarily from my invention in that they are both outerwear garments and they are not accessories. To benefit from the protection of these garments, a user must wear them in place of any other jacket or pants the user may prefer. The obvious advantage of my invention over that of Baake and Ekland is that my invention works as an accessory, which can be used with any clothing a user chooses to wear. My invention is not affected by other issues, which affect the choice of clothing, such as temperature, weather conditions, level of activity and fashion preference.

An additional prior invention was found for which there is a patent (Bol, Edward U.S. Pat. No. 4,894,869 Jan. 23, 1988) called only a “protective undergarment.” Bol describes the product as being constructed of a “waterproof outer surface and an absorptive inner surface.” It has a permanently attached elastic waist band and leg bands stitched at each end to the sides and to the crotch. This invention is much shorter than my invention and only covers the buttocks. The absorptive inner surface of the “protective undergarment” chosen by Bol was cotton terry cloth. As Bol describes it, the undergarment is pulled on like a pair of shorts before putting on one's outer pants. Although this prior art, which Bol intended for hunters, not skiers, may have performed adequately, it would fail to perform up to the level of my invention in several important areas.

Since Bol's invention only cover's the user's buttock, any contact of the user's legs with a wet chair would cause that portion of their pants to become wet. Once the user's pants, and any long underwear become wet, the water could wick from the pants or long underwear to Bol's absorptive terry cloth lining, creating a wet and uncomfortable condition for the user. My invention, which protects the backs of the legs to just above the knees, uses synthetic fleece as the inside layer, which is intentionally non-absorptive. Synthetic fleece does not absorb water, nor will water easily wick through it. Synthetic fleece is consistently chosen for outdoor clothing due to its properties of being non-absorptive, quick to dry when exposed to air, and thermally efficient, even in the presence of moisture. Active sports like skiing and snowboarding can cause heavy perspiration, and that moisture has to be able to move away from the user's skin, or there will be a wet and often cold result. Because cotton absorbs and holds moisture, it is rarely used in cold-weather gear because if it gets wet, the user then stays wet and uncomfortable—even if the moisture is from perspiration. Cotton is also slow to dry, and moisture trapped between the waterproof outer and the user would stay wet for a long time. Cotton is also avoided for cold weather activities because it provides poor thermal insulation and totally looses any ability to provide thermal insulation when it is wet; in fact it draws heat away from the body.

Chair lift seats and many other types of seating come in contact with a person's buttocks, crotch and back of the legs—nearly to the knees. When sitting on snow or ice, the wetness that ends up in a person's clothes is due to snow or ice melting caused by the direct pressure and warmth loss from the legs and buttocks. The performance of any protective product should insulate an individual's warmth from sitting on any ice or snow. My invention uses synthetic pile known for its thermal performance and its resistance to absorb moisture. In my invention, the thermal insulation covers the entire posterior area from the waist to the knees. Bol's product would not cover the backs of the thighs or the crotch, which then could become wet and cold. The cotton terry fabric Bol used to protect just the buttocks, is less effective at providing thermal insulation when dry and useless if it ever becomes wet.

Bol's “protective undergarment” only specifies that the outer layer is waterproof. My invention uses a breathable waterproof material for the outer layer. As mentioned, active sports can cause heavy perspiration and that perspiration needs to be able to evaporate, or it will accumulate in clothing. Bol's combination of cotton terry cloth and a waterproof outer layer would be very good at trapping and holding moisture. My invention follows current technology used by the makers of outdoor clothing, by combining a non-absorptive synthetic fleece lining with a breathable waterproof outer. This combination allows perspiration to evaporate, since vapor will pass through both the synthetic fleece and the breathable waterproof outer layers. With little or no accumulation of moisture in your clothes, you stay drier, warmer, and more comfortable.

Bol's invention uses elastic bands, which are permanently sewn to the garment to hold it in place. They are attached at the waist and the crotch area. My invention differs in that it does not attach at the crotch area, but rather just above the knees. Since a given length of elastic has a limited range in which it will stretch before it becomes very tight, the shorter the length, the smaller the range of stretch. The straps in Bol's invention limit the range of sizes that the elastic can comfortably stretch to accommodate. My invention uses elastic bands, which are much longer, and will stretch to fit a greater range of sizes comfortably. The elastics in my invention are not permanently attached to the undergarment at both ends, but are attached by stitching at a single point at the edge of the undergarment. The fabric at the waist and on each leg is folded back and sewn to form a tube around the elastic. The elastics are able to stretch within the tube to where they attach by hook and loop fastener to the same outside edge of the undergarment where the elastic was attached (see illustrations 1 and 2). My invention allows for three separate lengths of elastic to completely encircle the user's waist and each leg.

Since Bol's “protective undergarment” has to be put on before a user's pants, it is not as convenient as my invention, which can be easily added or removed without the user having to completely remove his or her pants. The user of my invention simply closes or opens the hook and loop attachments and the undergarment is entirely free to be put in place or removed.

Both Hot Buns and Bol's “protective undergarment” represent the closest possible prior art to my invention. In each case, the designs differ from my invention in significant ways, which give my invention an advantage, especially for the intended use by skiers and snowboarders.


Turning to drawings, page one and page two of the present application, the undergarment is shown as it appears lying flat.

As noted, my invention is produced by combining two commercially produced fabrics, so that one creates the outer face and the other creates the inner face. The inner face 1 is made from a non-absorbent insulating fabric, I have used synthetic fleece. The outer face 11 is made of a breathable waterproof barrier. Fabrics that are breathable waterproof may be made with either a treated fabric or a combination of a thin breathable waterproof film, bound to a protective covering. With this type of fabric, the protective covering becomes the outer face of the undergarment, with the waterproof barrier sandwiched between the inner 2 and outer 11 faces. The undergarment can be produced with the two fabric layers joined by stitching 13 around the edges. The undergarment can also be produced by using a fabric which has the non-absorbent inner fabric 1 and the breathable waterproof outer fabric 11 already bonded together as a single fabric. If the material already bonded together as a single fabric is used to produce the undergarment, the outside edge of each panel 2 and 3 is finished by stitching.

The present invention is made with a left 3 and right 2 panel, which is cut to size and stitched 13 together to create a center seam 10. Two darts 9 are cut into the outside edge of each panel and then stitched 13 together. The darts give the undergarment a shape, which allows a closer and more comfortable contoured fit for the user.

Elastic straps are cut to length and stitched onto the undergarment. A longer one to serve as a waist belt 5 is attached by stitching 13 at the top left side of the left panel 3 and two shorter ones are stitched 13 in place at the bottom of each panel, at the left corner of the left panel 3 for the left leg strap 8, and at the right corner of the right panel 2 for the right leg strap 8. The elastic straps are placed so as to allow enough fabric to be folded over them and stitched across 13 to form a tube 4 to enclose the elastic waist belt and a tube 7 to enclose each leg strap 8. The elastics must be able to stretch within the tubes 4, 7.

Each of the elastics 5, 8 has the hook side of a hook & loop fastener 6 stitched 13 to its ends, facing in, towards the user when the undergarment is in place. To provide an attachment point for the waist strap, an equal sized loop side of a hook and loop fastener 12 is stitched 13 to the outside face of the left panel 3 at the top-left edge of the waist belt tube 4. Likewise, to provide an attachment point for each leg strap, an equal size loop fastener 12 of a hook and loop fastener is stitched 13 to the outside face of each panel 3 and 2 at the bottom outside edge and along the leg strap tube 7, in the same fashion as was done at the waist.

As discussed in the Background section, the present invention differs from and improves on prior inventions created to serve the same purpose.

The most basic and profound difference lies in the manner in which the present invention is worn. As mentioned, both the flap-type and Hot Buns inventions are the only known accessories available to protect skiers and snowboarders from having their pants soaked through from sitting on wet chair lifts. Both are worn outside a user's pants, whereas the present invention is an undergarment that is worn inside a user's pants. The full advantage of this is discussed more specifically in the Background section, but in summary, my invention has improved convenience, performance, and appearance.

The convenience advantage is that my invention comfortably remains in place, inside the user's outer clothing. Since I designed my invention with detachable elastic straps to hold it in place, it can be easily put in place or removed without having to completely remove any outer pants. This can be done before and after a day of skiing, it is not necessary to do anything before or after each ski run. The prior art requires the user to either leave the product draped behind them as they ski, or take the time to roll it up for skiing and roll it down for riding a chair lift. Neither choice is popular.

The performance advantage comes both from how my invention is worn and from the materials used to construct it. Since it is worn inside a user's pants, the inner thermally insulating layer never becomes exposed to the elements. It is protected by both the waterproof outer layer and by the user's own outer clothing. The combination of materials used in my invention prevents moisture and cold from reaching the user and being breathable, my invention can eliminate any moisture from perspiration. The existing available products are continually exposed to the elements unless the user takes the time to roll them around their attached belt. Most users never take the time to roll these products up between runs, which allows cold and moisture to penetrate the user's clothes and the product itself becomes wet.

The advantage in appearance comes from how my invention is worn—inside a user's outer pants. Since my invention uses only the amount of material necessary to protect the posterior of the user, it fits comfortably under any choice of pants, even close fitting stretch pants. Others are never aware that a user is wearing my invention. Most skiers and snowboarders take care in their appearance and many spend a great deal of money on fashionable ski clothing. The current products mentioned are worn outside a user's clothing. They were designed to do one thing, insulate the user from a wet and cold chair lift. Fashion or a skier's appearance was given little thought. As mentioned, it is not easy to roll these products up between runs, so most people do not. As a result, the flap-type protective devices drape or flap behind a user all day long, which ruins the appearance of any coordinated ski outfit.

There is an item of prior art (Bol—U.S. Pat. No. 4,894,869), referred to in my Background section, which is worn inside the pants like my invention. It was designed to cover only the buttocks and was intended for hunters. It would be very unlikely that a skier or anyone who had to sit on a larger seat with water or snow on it would ever use this invention. Not only would it leave the crotch and backs of the thighs unprotected, the inner layer is specified to be made of absorbent cotton terry cloth. As detailed in my Background section, cotton is a very poor choice of material for protection from cold and wet weather conditions. My invention uses a non-absorbent synthetic fabric, which has been the common choice of experienced manufactures of outdoor clothing for years. Besides the above, Bol's invention lacks the convenience of my invention in that it is held in place by fixed elastic bands at the waist and around the legs at the crotch. They then require the user to completely remove his or her outer pants in order to put them in place or remove them.

There are certainly other outer clothing articles that can accomplish some of the same objectives as my invention, but these are not in the class of an accessory, as mine is (see paragraph 23 in the Background section). There are fully insulated and waterproof pants and outfits, which can perform the same function, but because these are overly warm and bulky, they can only be used comfortably in the coldest of conditions. I do not consider these in terms of prior art.


The undergarment works by preventing moisture and cold from sitting on water, snow, ice or other cold surfaces from penetrating a user's clothing and reaching his or her underwear and body. It is also designed to allow moisture from perspiration to easily evaporate and not accumulate in clothing, which a user wears inside my invention, such as underwear.

The invention is designed to be worn inside a user's pants of choice and is shown in place in drawing (3). Most skiers, snowboarders and many others, who dress for cold and wet weather, commonly wear long underwear. The invention, when worn over a user's long underwear and inside a user's outer pants, is the most comfortable and effective use of my invention. To use my invention, a user may attach it in place before pulling on his or her pants or by simply lowering his or her pants to the knees, then attaching the undergarment in place.

As noted in the drawing (3) showing the invention as it is worn, to put the undergarment in place, a user simply holds it with the top of the undergarment inner fleece layer against his or her back at the waist, then stretches the elastic belt in front of the user until the hook and loop fasteners can be joined by pressing together. Each of the elastics on the legs is stretched and joined in the same fashion, just above the knee. The user then pulls his or her outer pants into place. The undergarment can be removed by simply lowering the pants, then opening the hook and loop fasteners. The elastics serve to hold the invention in place comfortably. The undergarment achieves a much closer and conforming fit when the user's own pants come in contact with it. Because my invention covers only a small portion of the user's body, it creates little bulk under outer clothing. The result is that the user does not feel restricted, and experiences little if any change in the way his or her outer pants fit.

The present invention prevents moisture and cold from passing from a user's outer clothing to his or her body or any underclothing by forming an effective thermally insulated waterproof barrier. Current manufactures of outdoor clothing have been using the successful combination of an outer layer of breathable waterproof material and an inner layer of non-absorbent material such as synthetic fleece. The outer layer effectively stops the penetration of moisture from the outside and the inner layer adds warmth and allows moisture from perspiration to pass through both the fleece and the breathable outer layer. The non-absorbent fleece further resists wicking of any water, which could pass through the outer layer. The fleece then improves the effectiveness of the outer waterproof layer while providing additional protection from the cold.

Rather than use the present invention, an individual could wear a pair of pants made of the same two layers, but they would provide more protection than is necessary, since all that needs to be protected from when sitting on wet cold surfaces is the back of the legs and the buttocks. A pair of pants made of these same materials could become overly warm, especially while exercising and could accumulate too much moisture from perspiration. Since the present invention covers only the back of the legs and buttocks, excess heat can easily escape through the undergarment and around the sides, as it does not totally enclose any area of the body.


The present invention is designed to be worn inside a user's outer pants, but would offer similar, but less effective protection if worn outside the pants.

The present invention could be worn inside-out and still achieve similar results.

The present invention could be produced with a non-breathable waterproof outer layer and achieve similar, but less consistent results.

The present invention could be held in place by means other than by elastic bands or attached hook and loop fasteners but would be less comfortable.

The present invention could be produced using straps to hold it in place, which are permanently attached at both ends instead of using detachable straps but would be less convenient.

The present invention could be made without forming a tube to enclose the elastic waist belt and leg straps, although the present invention's method fits a greater size range of users.

The present invention could be produced without an inner layer of synthetic fleece and still achieve a similar result, but it would lack important performance properties. More cold and possibly water could pass through to the user and moisture from perspiration would accumulate easier.