Title:
Retention system for headgear
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Protective headguard comprising a protective pad and a retention element cooperatively attached to the protective pad wherein the headguard defines at least two separate and distinct, diametrically intersecting and inwardly influenced circumferential lines of retention when worn on the head.



Inventors:
Piper, Dennis (San Diego, CA, US)
Cleveland, William (El Cajon, CA, US)
Lampe, John K. (St. Paul, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/816712
Publication Date:
09/22/2005
Filing Date:
04/02/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A42B3/00; A42B3/32; (IPC1-7): A42B3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SUTTON, ANDREW W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHERRILL LAW OFFICES (WHITE BEAR LAKE, MN, US)
Claims:
1. A protective headguard to be worn on a human head, comprising a protective pad and a retention element cooperatively attached to the protective pad wherein the headguard defines at least two separate and distinct tensioned and diametrically intersecting circumferential lines of retention when worn on the head.

2. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the retention element is elastic.

3. The protective headguard of claim 2 wherein the retention element defines a strap extending along at least a portion of each line of retention.

4. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the retention element includes a strap extending along at least a portion of each line of retention, and a length adjustment means cooperatively attached to each strap for permitting an adjustment of the length of each strap.

5. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the protective pad and retention element are configured and arranged such that the diametric points of intersection of the circumferential lines of retention are positioned proximate each temple of a wearer when the protective headguard is worn on the head.

6. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the headgear is configured and arranged so that one circumferential line of retention runs above an occipital bone of a wearer and another circumferential line of retention runs below the occipital bone of a wearer.

7. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the angle at which the circumferential lines of retention intersect when the headguard is worn is adjustable.

8. The protective headguard of claim 1 wherein the positions of the diametric points of intersection of the circumferential lines of retention may be circumferentially shifted.

9. A protective headguard to be worn on a human head, comprising a protective pad and a pair of separate and distinct, tensioned and diametrically intersecting retention elements attached to the protective pad.

10. The protective headguard of claim 9 wherein at least a segment of each retention element is elastic.

11. The protective headguard of claim 9 wherein the retention elements are elastic.

12. The protective headguard of claim 9 wherein the retention elements have a length and include a length adjustment means cooperatively attached to each retention element for permitting an adjustment in the tension of each retention element when the protective headguard is worn on the head.

13. The protective headguard of claim 9 wherein the protective pad and retention element are configured and arranged such that the diametric points of intersection of the circumferential lines of retention are positioned proximate each temple of a wearer when the protective headguard is worn on the head.

14. A protective headguard to be worn on a human head, comprising: (a) a front protective piece comprising a plurality of separate pads loosely restrained within a pocket whereby each pad may shift within the pocket relative to the other pads, (b) a rear protective piece, (c) and a retention element interconnecting the front protective piece and the rear protective piece.

15. The protective headguard of claim 14 wherein the retention element is elastic.

16. The protective headguard of claim 15 wherein the retention element defines a strap.

17. The protective headguard of claim 14 wherein the retention element includes a strap and a length adjustment means cooperatively attached to the strap for permitting an adjustment of the length of each strap.

18. The protective headguard of claim 14 wherein the front protective piece comprises at least three separate pads.

19. The protective headguard of claim 14 wherein the pocket is divided into separate cells with a single pad retained within each cell.

20. A protective headguard to be worn on a human head, comprising a front protective piece and a rear protective piece wherein the front protective piece and the rear protective piece are pivotally attached to one another at diametrically opposed pivot points whereby the front protective piece and the rear protective piece may be independently pivoted about the pivot points.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/459,487, filed Apr. 2, 2003.

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to fit and retention systems for headgear, especially protective headgear. Specifically, it relates to fit and retention systems for protective headgear which do not require a chinstrap.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The prior art contains many examples of headgear fit and retention systems. Headgear fit and retention systems are intended to keep the headgear on the head during use, maintain fit and comfort while in use, and allow the user to easily put on and take off the headgear when desired.

Fit and retention systems all must deal with the basic characteristics of the human head. These characteristics include the generally spheroidal shape, attachment of the head at the neck, and the various features such as the shape and location of eyes and ears, hair, etc. In addition the systems must deal with variations among users in head size and head shape. For example, some individuals may have prominent frontal bones, occipital bones, or parietal eminences, while others may not.

For certain kinds of headgear, retention and fit issues are relatively inconsequential because the existing retention and fitting systems work relatively well. Knit winter hats generally fall into this category. The headgear is lightweight and conforms easily to variations in head size and shape. Therefore, many users with different head shapes and sizes can comfortably wear the same kind and size of hat. Moreover, knit winter hats typically remain on the head under quite demanding circumstances such as in skiing, sledding, or other vigorous activities.

For other kinds of headgear, retention and fit issues are relatively inconsequential because it is not critical that the headgear remain on the head. A baseball cap falls in this category. In many instances, a baseball cap is worn during leisure activities where retention is not tested. When it is worn in more demanding circumstances such as a baseball game, retention may not be critical because loss of a cap does not pose a danger to the user. Therefore, users may be more willing to tolerate shortcomings in the retention and fit system.

For many kinds of protective headgear, fit and retention issues can be critical. For example, if a bicycle or football helmet falls off while a user is engaged in one of those activities, the results could be catastrophic. Therefore, it is essential that secure systems be employed to ensure helmets stay on the user while engaged in those activities.

With most kinds of protective headgear, however, devising fit and retention systems is a difficult endeavor. Many activities require significant protection and therefore headgear may become bulkier and heavier. In addition some materials used in the construction of such helmets may be hard and stiff such as helmet shells. Such materials make it difficult to conform a helmet to the shapes of the heads of different users.

Protective helmets use various means to improve retention and fit. For those with hard and stiff shells, compressible padding, padding inserts, and adjustable suspension systems are some of the means by which different head sizes can be accommodated. Football, hockey, bicycle helmets, and construction hard hats would fall into this category. For headgear with soft flexible shells, such as the headgear used in boxing, the martial arts, or soccer, the shape of the entire piece of headgear can be altered with, for example, adjustable length straps to help conform it to the shape of the head.

In many instances, however, additional retention means such as chinstraps become necessary. Chinstraps typically attach near the edges of the helmet close to the ears and either pass under the chin or over the chin. A fastening system such as a buckle or snap allows the user to fasten and unfasten the chinstrap.

While chinstraps may help retain a helmet on the head, chinstraps can pose problems. First, chinstraps may heighten risk by increasing the rigidity of the head protection system. Forces applied to the head at angular vectors may cause the helmet and the head to rotate. Significant rotational forces can harm both the brain and the neck. An inflexible chinstrap therefore may contribute to injury by placing additional strain on the head as it rotates.

Second, chinstraps often require adjustment for proper fit. In many instances such adjustments may be difficult and inconvenient. An improperly adjusted chinstrap may, for example, allow the helmet to move too much when subjected to a force thereby exposing an unprotected portion of the head to a blow. This is especially a problem with those chinstraps that require the user to adjust the chinstrap each time the headgear is worn.

Third, chinstraps are often uncomfortable or inconvenient. Chinstraps that run over the chin usually require a cup to fit on the chin. A chin-cup may restrict the jaw and limit activities such as speech. A chinstrap running under the chin, over the neck, and over the thorax may cause discomfort during normal use and may pose a danger during an accident.

Finally, even properly adjusted chinstraps may do little to prevent minor shifts in the helmet during normal use. These minor shifts can be very bothersome for activities, for example, that require unimpeded sight.

Various means have been attempted to improve fit and retention to overcome the shortcomings of systems that rely primarily on the chinstrap. Doing so often requires balancing fit, retention, and comfort as an improvement in one of these attributes tends to come at the expense of another of the attributes. With almost any headgear, retention can be improved by simply making the headgear fit tighter. For headgear such as knit winter hats or winter headbands this does not typically pose a problem. A knit winter hat can fit relatively tight without causing discomfort. The lightness, elasticity, and conformability of such headgear are likely reasons for this.

For many kinds of protective headgear, however, creating a tighter fit results in discomfort. An American football helmet with a tight fit can be very uncomfortable. The bulk, inelasticity of the headgear structure, and the pressure points created where padding is compressed to fit variations on the head's surface could be causes for this.

Alternatives to simply tightening the fit have been developed. Many bicycle helmets, for example, have devices that cradle the occipital bone. These systems are not intended to eliminate the chinstrap but are intended to prevent minor shifts during normal use and to reserve the chinstrap for events such as accidents. These systems rely on a retention system that applies pressure to selected points on the head. In the case of the bicycle helmets with the occipital cradle, what amounts to a triangular retention system is created. In this system pressure is applied to a set of points below the occipital bone, points above the occipital bone, and points approximately in the middle of the forehead. However, these systems still rely on a chinstrap for retention purposes. Therefore there is still a pressure point under the chin.

Alternative fit and retention systems are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,266,827 and 6,349,416 to Lampe et al. The fit and retention systems revealed in these patents can work without chinstraps. These patents describe headgear with adjustable length straps located in positions other than those where chinstraps would typically be located. The adjustable length straps and the structure of the headgear create spaced circular lines of retention. By tightening the adjustable length straps, pressure can be placed on the head at points along one of the circular lines of retention. Unlike a baseball cap, these devices may have two or more circular lines of retention. The circular lines could be located on approximately parallel planes in relation to the head. One circular line of retention could run around the head on one plane ideally positioned below the occipital bone and below the frontal bone but above the brow. Another plane is ideally positioned above the occipital bone and above the frontal bone. While the fit and retention systems disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,266,827 and 6,349,416 to Lampe et al. constitute a significant advance over prior systems, a continuing need exists for further improvements in headgear fit and retention systems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Generally, the present invention relates to improvements to headguards. A first aspect of the invention is a protective headguard comprising a protective pad and a retention element cooperatively attached to the protective pad wherein the headguard defines at least two separate and distinct tensioned and diametrically intersecting circumferential lines of retention when worn on the head.

A second aspect of the invention is a headguard comprising a protective pad and a pair of separate and distinct, circumferential, diametrically intersecting retention elements attached to the protective pad.

A third aspect of the invention is a headguard comprising (i) a front protective piece having a plurality of separate pads loosely restrained within a pocket whereby each pad may shift within the pocket relative to the other pads, (ii) a rear protective piece, and (iii) a retention element interconnecting the front protective piece and the rear protective piece.

A fourth aspect of the invention is a protective headguard comprising a front protective piece and a rear protective piece wherein the front protective piece and the rear protective piece are pivotally attached to one another at diametrically opposed pivot points such that the front protective piece and the rear protective piece may be independently pivoted about the pivot points.

Objects and advantages of this invention include:

A fit and retention system for headgear that works with many kinds of headgear including protective headgear with pliable and stiff structures.

A fit and retention system for headgear that is adjustable and allows accommodation of different head sizes and head shapes.

A fit and retention system for headgear effective with or without a chinstrap.

A fit and retention system for headgear that allows the headgear to fit snugly with a minimum degree of tension.

A fit and retention system for headgear that allows the headgear to be securely affixed to the head with a minimum degree of tension.

A fit and retention system for headgear that employs at least two “circular lines of retention” (i.e., circular lines around the head that represent the main points of pressure against the head created by the fit and retention system).

A fit and retention system for headgear with circular lines of retention that encircle the head, intersect each other at least twice, and extend from approximately the forehead area to the back of the head.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention may be more completely understood in consideration of the following detailed description of various embodiments of the invention in connection with the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1a is a side elevation of a human head including a depiction of (i) a first great circle located on the mid-sagittal plane, and (ii) a second great circle located on a transverse plane.

FIG. 1b is a top view of the human head shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 1c is a side elevation of a human head including a depiction of (i) a first great circle located on the mid-sagittal plane, and (ii) third circle located on a transverse plane which is not a great circle.

FIG. 1d is a side elevation of a human head including a depiction of first, second fourth and fifth great circles.

FIG. 2a is a side elevation view of a first embodiment of the invention worn on a human head.

FIG. 2b is a back elevation view of the invention shown in FIG. 2a.

FIG. 2c is a cross-sectional side view of the invention shown in FIG. 2a.

FIG. 3a is a side elevation view of a second embodiment of the invention worn on a human head.

FIG. 3b is a cross-sectional side view of the invention shown in FIG. 3a.

FIG. 4 is a side elevation view of a third embodiment of the invention worn on a human head.

FIG. 5 is a side elevation view of a fourth embodiment of the invention worn on a human head.

FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of a fifth embodiment of the invention worn on a human head.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION INCLUDING A BEST MODE

Nomenclature

100 Human Head

101 First Circle

102 Center Point

103 Second Circle

104 Forehead

105 Brow

106 Eyes

107 Mouth

108 Back Of Head

109 Back Of Neck

110 Third Circle

111 Fourth Circle

112 Fifth Circle

113 Nose

114 Chin

115 Neck

200 First Embodiment Of Headband

204 Forehead

215 Front Piece

216 Back Piece

217 First Strap

218 Second Strap

219 Front Padding

220 Back Padding

221 Front Covering

222 Back Covering

223 Intersection

224 Temple Area Of Head

225 Ears

226 Occipital Bone

227 Sleeve

228 Frontal Bone

232 First Length Adjustment Means

233 Second Length Adjustment Means

234 Loop

235 Hook And Loop Tab

300 Second Embodiment Of Headband

315 Front Piece

316 Back Piece

317 First Strap

318 Second Strap

321 Front Covering

322 Back Covering

328 Frontal Bone

340 Lower Front Pad

341 Middle Front Pad

342 Upper Front Pad

343 Lower Back Pad

344 Middle Back Pad

345 Upper Back Pad

346 Arrows

347 Gap Between Pads

400 Third Embodiment Of Headband

415 Front Piece

416 Back Piece

432 First Length Adjustment Means

433 Second Length Adjustment Means

450 Front Unit

451 Back Unit

452 Rivet

453 Upper Portion Of Front Unit

454 Lower Portion Of Front Unit

455 Upper Portion Of Back Unit

456 Lower Portion Of Back Unit

500 Fourth Embodiment Of Headgear

510 Padding

517 First Strap

518 Second Strap

560 Gap

600 Fifth Embodiment of Headband

615 Front Piece

616 Back Piece

617 First Strap

618 Second Strap

665 Slot in Front Piece

666 First Slot in Back Piece

667 Second Slot in Back Piece

668 First Hook and Loop Tab

669 Second Hook and Loop Tab

670 Intersection Point

671 Arrows

Definitions

As utilized herein, including the claims, the phrase “length adjustment means” includes any and all means known to those skilled in the art for adjusting the length of a retention cord or strap on headgear including specifically, but not exclusively, (i) cord locks or barrel locks, (ii) ratchet adjusters, (iii) slide adjusters, (iv) ladder locks, (v) cam buckles, (vi) slide buckles, (vii) side-release buckles with slide, (viii) center-release buckles with slide, (ix) bar buckles with series of holes along the length of the strap, (x) combination of loop with hook and loop strap, (xi) combination of loop with strap having a series of snap halves attached along the length of the strap, etc.

As utilized herein, including the claims, the term “loosely” means having relative freedom of movement.

As utilized herein, including the claims, the term “separate” means lack of direct connection.

Construction and Use

FIG. 1a shows a profile of the left side (not numbered) of a human head 100. A first circle 101, represented by dashes, perpendicular to the horizon divides the head 100 into two sides from the middle of the face (unnumbered) to the middle of the back 108 of the head 100. This first circle 101 therefore is located on the mid-sagittal plane (unnumbered). The center point 102 of the first circle 101 is marked. FIG. 1a also shows dashes representing a second circle 103. The second circle 103 is located on a transverse plane (unnumbered). The second circle 103 has the same center point 102 as the first circle 101. FIG. 1b shows a top view of the same human head 100 with the same first circle 101 and second circle 103. In this view, the second circle 103 is visible as a circle and the first circle 101 is visible as a dashed line.

The first circle 101 and second circle 103 shown in FIGS. 1a and 1b are two circles that represent “great circles” of a sphere (unnumbered). Great circles are ones whose plane passes through the center of the sphere. In this case, the center point 102 marked in FIGS. 1a and 1b is the center point 102 of the first circle 101, the second circle 103, and the sphere represented by these great circles. That sphere would roughly correspond to the three-dimensional shape of the human head 100.

Although the human head 100 is not a sphere, its shape is more similar to a sphere than it is to other standard shapes. This is especially true if protruding portions of the face such as the nose 113, mouth 107, and chin 114 are excluded as well as the neck 115. In designing a fit and retention system consistent with this invention, excluding these areas of the face and the neck 115 makes sense for two reasons. First, if a chinstrap-like device (not shown) is not going to be used (or is going to be used as a secondary means of retention), the primary retention system could not be located in the chin 114 or neck 115 areas. Second, the typical retention system could not be located on areas of the face; otherwise, vision could be blocked, movement of the mouth 107 could be impeded, and the fit would generally be uncomfortable.

The boundaries of the excluded areas would, for most uses, be as follows. In relation to the forehead 104 shown in FIG. 1a, points on or below the brow 105 could be foreclosed as potential points along a circular line of retention. In relation to the back 108 of the head 100, circular lines of retention could not probably be positioned significantly down on the back 109 of the neck 115.

Within this restricted universe, some circular lines of retention will be more optimal than others. The more the circular line of retention deviates from a great circle, the less stable it may be. That is, because a circular line of retention with tension on it will direct pressure inward. A circular line of retention that follows a great circle will direct that pressure toward the center of the sphere. A circular line of retention that follows a circle that is not a great circle will direct pressure at some point other than the center of the sphere. This will tend to make such a circular line of retention less stable. For example, in FIG. 1c, a third circle 110, which is not a great circle, is represented. If the third circle 110 were used to form a circular line of retention for a piece of headgear (not shown) on the head 100, that headgear would be somewhat unstable. Because of the curvature of the human head 100, tension along this third circle 110 as a circular line of retention would tend to force the headgear upward off the top of the head 100.

FIG. 1d shows an illustration with representations in the form of solid lines of a fourth circle 111 and a fifth circle 112. These circles, like the first circle 101 and second circle 103, are great circles. As individual circular lines of retention around a sphere, both the fourth circle 111 and the fifth circle 112 would be more stable than the third circle 110 when under tension as tension along the fourth circle 111 and fifth circle 112 would tend to pull those circles toward the center of the sphere rather than in a direction toward the top or bottom of the sphere.

If a plurality of circular lines of retention are connected, for example, at points where two circles intersect, those circular lines of retention will be even more stable because another set of points (not shown), forming a plurality of point sets (not shown), will be directing forces toward the center of the sphere.

Since the human head 100 is not typically a sphere, circular lines of retention for a piece of headgear (not shown) cannot generally create true great circles. If, for example, the fourth circle 111 and fifth circle 112 were extended outward or inward sufficiently to accommodate the shape of the head 100 depicted in FIGS. 1b and 1d, then the fourth circle 111 and fifth circle 112 would no longer be great circles. In addition, a fit and retention system with flexible straps (not shown), for example, could stretch and bend to some extent thereby distorting the shape of a circular line of retention. Finally, headgear materials such as the padding (not shown) or the shell (not shown), if the headgear has one, may distort the circular line of retention created by a fit and retention system. However, headgear with circular lines of retention that track, as closely as possible, great circles are still achievable. In order to create a stable a fit and retention system without a chinstrap (not shown), this invention seeks to develop fit and retention systems with circular lines of retention that as closely as possible approximate great circles.

FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c show a first embodiment of the invention 200. FIG. 2a shows a profile of a human head 100 with the first embodiment of the protective headband 200 on it. The headband 200 has a front piece 215 and a back piece 216, and a retention system including a first strap 217 and a second strap 218 extending along intersecting great circles on the head 100. The first strap 217 and second strap 218 intersect at two diametrically opposed locations 223 on either side of the head 100. Because the profile in FIG. 2a shows the left side (unnumbered) of the head 100, only one intersection point 223 is shown. As shown in FIG. 2c, the front piece 215 and back piece 216 of the headband 200 can each have padding 219 and 220 and a covering 221 and 222, respectively.

The first embodiment of the protective headband 200 shown in FIGS. 2a through 2c would be suitable for activities where protection for the top (unnumbered) of the head 100 is either not necessary or not desirable, and where a chinstrap is not required. Activities for which this embodiment and subsequent embodiments might be appropriate include soccer.

The front piece 215 of the headband 200 depicted in FIG. 2a wraps from the forehead 204 to the temple areas 224 and, in this embodiment, ends just in front of the ears 225 on either side. The back piece 216 of the headband 200 wraps around the occipital bone 226 on the back (unnumbered) of the head 100 and ends just behind the ears 225 on either side of the head 100. Although not shown, padding (not shown) could be inserted between the front piece 215 and the back piece 216.

As shown in FIG. 2b, a first strap 217 and a second strap 218 encircle the head 100. Each of the first strap 217 and second strap 218 run through a separate fabric sleeve 227 which holds the straps 217 and 218 in position. Although sleeves 227 are shown in this embodiment as the mechanism for maintaining the first and second straps 217 and 218 in proper position, many other means would also be suitable for maintaining the position of the first and second straps 217 and 218. Such other means might include recessed channels (not shown) in the front piece 215 and/or back piece 216 of the headband 200, or fabric loops (not shown) on the front piece 215 and/or back piece 216 of the headband 200 through which the first and second straps 217 and 218 could run.

The first strap 217 can run approximately from the forehead 204, above the frontal bone 228 across the temple area 224, and end below the occipital bone 226 at the rear of the head 100. The second strap 218 can run approximately from the forehead 204, below the frontal bone 228 across the temple area 224 and end above the occipital bone 226 at the rear of the head 100. The first strap 217 and second strap 218, can each be equipped with a connecting length adjustment means 232 and 233 at the rear of the head 100, such as a combination of a loop 234 and a hook and loop tab 235.

The first and second straps 217 and 218 cross at approximately the temple area 224 on each side of the head 100. When comparing FIG. 2a to FIG. 1d, it can be seen that the first and second straps 217 and 218 approximately track the criss-crossing fourth and fifth great circles 111 and 112 identified in FIG. 1d. The first and second straps 217 and 218 in FIG. 2a create criss-crossing circular lines of retention that approximate the criss-crossing fourth and fifth great circles 111 and 112 identified in FIG. 1d.

The front and back padding 219 and 220 in the front and back pieces 215 and 216 of the headband 200 could be made of many different materials. One such material is foam, which would be suitable for many applications. Similarly, the front and back coverings 221 and 222 for the front and back pieces 215 and 216 of the headband 200 could be made of many different materials. The front and back coverings 221 and 222 could range from fabric entirely encasing the front and back padding 219 and 220, to hard plastic covering the exterior surface (unnumbered) of the front and back padding 219 and 220. Many other kinds of padding and coverings such as those identified in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,266,827, 6,349,416, 6,381,760, and 6,397,399 to Lampe et al. could also be used.

The first and second straps 217 and 218 could be of many different widths and thicknesses and could be made of many different materials. Those depicted in FIGS. 2a and 2b are made of an elastic cord-like material The first and second straps 217 and 218 could also have a flat shape. In most instances a stretchable material may be preferable to ensure that sufficient tension is maintained when the headband 200 is worn.

As shown in FIG. 2b, one suitable connecting length adjustment means 232 and 233 is a combination of a loop 234 and a hook and loop tab 235. Such connecting length adjustment means 232 and 233 allow the size of the first and second straps 217 and 218 to be quickly and easily varied. In this embodiment, the first and second length adjustment means 232 and 233 each has a loop 234 through which a hook and loop tab 235 can be inserted and then fastened back onto itself. The length adjustment means 232 and 233 should be of a type which are capable of allowing adjustments in the length of the first and second straps 217 and 218, thereby permitting an adjustment in the tension exerted by each strap 217 and 218. Therefore, the embodiment of the headgear 200 shown in FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c permits the first and second straps 217 and 218 to be stretched because they are elastic, and permits a change in the length of the first and second straps 217 and 218.

FIGS. 3a and 3b depict a headband 300 representing a second embodiment of the invention. Many aspects of the second embodiment of the invention 300 emulate or resemble those of the first embodiment of the invention 200 shown in FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c. The primary difference between the first embodiment 200 and the second embodiment 300 is the nature of the padding (not collectively numbered). In the second embodiment of the invention 300, shown most clearly in FIG. 3b, the padding 340 through 342 in the front piece 315 and padding 343 through 345 in back piece 316 consists of several individual pads encased in a front covering 321 and a back covering 322 respectively. As in the first embodiment of the invention 200, the front and back coverings 321 and 322 in the second embodiment of the invention 300 could be a fabric covering. The front piece 315 of the headband 300 has lower pad 340, a middle pad 341 and an upper pad 342. Similarly, the back piece 316 of the headband 300 has a lower pad 343, a middle pad 344 and an upper pad 345. The pads 340 through 345 may be configured such that they accommodate different shapes and features on a human head 100. For example, the middle pad 341 in the front piece 315 of the headband 300 could extend outward more to accommodate a human head 100 with a more protruding frontal bone 328. As shown in FIG. 3a, the pads 340 through 345 may also be configured and arranged within the front and back coverings 321 and 322 to permit the pads 340 through 345 to shift to some degree on the surface of the head 100 in the directions of the arrows 346. Such shifting of the pads 340 through 345 may be facilitated by constructing the front and back coverings 321 and 322 from a stretchable fabric and/or providing a gap 347 between the pads 340 through 345. Such shifting can accommodate different shapes and features on a human head 100 and also allows a user to vary the position of the first and second straps 317 and 318.

FIG. 4 depicts a headband 400 representing a third embodiment of the invention. Many aspects of the third embodiment of the invention 400 emulate or resemble those of the first embodiment of the invention 200 shown in FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c. The primary difference between the first embodiment of the invention 200 and the third embodiment of the invention 400 is the fit and retention system. The first embodiment of the invention 200 employs two separate straps 217 and 218. In contract, as shown in FIG. 4, the third embodiment of the invention 400 has an adjustment mechanism (not collectively numbered) with a front unit 450 and a back unit 451. The front unit 450 is connected to the back unit 451 on either side of the head 100 by a rivet 452 or other fixing device. Preferably the rivets 452 attach the front unit 450 and back unit 451 at the points of intersection (unnumbered) of the circular lines of retention defined by the front unit 450 and back unit 451.

The rivets 452 should be configured and arranged to allow the front piece 415 and back piece 416 to move up and down in relation to one another by pivoting about the rivet 452. The rivet 452 could be relatively soft, such as one made from foam or even fabric. The rivet 452 could be eliminated with the front unit 450 and the back unit 451 simply connected at a narrowing point, but such an attachment mechanism is not preferred as such an attachment may restrict movement of the front and back pieces 415 and 416 relative to one another.

The front and back units 450 and 451 could be of many different widths and thicknesses and could be made of many different materials. Those depicted in FIG. 4 are straps The front and back units 450 and 451 could also be a cord similar to the straps of the first and second embodiments of the invention 200 and 300. In most instances a stretchable material is preferred to ensure that sufficient tension is maintained when the headband 400 is worn.

The upper portion 453 and lower portion 454 of the front unit 450 and/or the upper portion 455 and lower portion 456 of the back unit 451 can each be equipped with a connecting length adjustment means 432 and 433, such as a combination of a loop (unnumbered) and a hook and loop tab (unnumbered).

Despite the different configuration of the fit and retention system in the third embodiment of the invention 400, the third embodiment of the invention 400 could still rely on the great circle concept. In the case of the third embodiment of the invention 400, one circular line of retention would be formed by a combination of the upper portion 453 of the front unit 450 and the lower portion 456 of the back unit 451. Another circular line of retention would be formed by a combination of the lower portion 454 of the front unit 450 and the upper portion 455 of the back unit 451.

FIG. 5 depicts a headband 500 representing a fourth embodiment of the invention. Many aspects of the fourth embodiment of the invention 500 emulate or resemble those of the first and second embodiments of the invention 200 and 300 shown in FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c, and FIGS. 3a and 3b, respectively. The primary difference between the first and second embodiments of the invention 200 and 300, and the fourth embodiment of the invention 500 is the padding. As shown in FIG. 5, the headgear 500 has a unitary piece of padding 510 that covers the top (unnumbered) of the head 100 as well as those portions of the head 100 covered by the first, second and third embodiments of the invention 200, 300 and 400. The fit and retention system of the fourth embodiment of the invention 500 functions much the same as the fit and retention system of the first and second embodiments of the invention 100 and 300. A gap 560 in the unitary piece of padding 510 permits the size of the headgear 500 to be expanded or contracted using the first and second straps 517 and 518.

FIG. 6 depicts a headband 600 representing a fifth embodiment of the invention. This fifth embodiment of the invention 600 has a front piece 615 and a back piece 616. The front and back pieces 615 and 616 are connected to each other by a pair of first and second straps 617 and 618 with a one pair of the straps 617 and 618 located on each side of the head 100. As shown in FIG. 6, one pair of a first and a second strap 617 and 618 is located on the left side of the head 100 proximate the temple (unnumbered). An identical pair of a first and a second strap 617 and 618 is also located on the hidden right side of the head 100 proximate the temple (unnumbered).

The fifth embodiment of the invention 600 differs from the first embodiment of the invention 200 in several ways. First, the first and second straps 617 and 618 of the fifth embodiment of the invention 600 do not encircle the head 100. As shown in FIG. 6, the first and second straps 617 and 618 of the fifth embodiment of the invention 600 are connected to the sides (unnumbered) of the front and back pieces 615 and 616 on the side of the head 100. Second, the fifth embodiment of the invention 600 has a slot 665 through the front piece 615 for accommodating passage of the first strap 617.

As with the other embodiments of the invention, the first strap 617 and second strap 618 of the fifth embodiment of the invention 600 can each be equipped with a connecting length adjustment means (not collectively numbered) proximate the rear of the head 100, such as a first combination of a first slot 666 in the back piece 616 and a first hook and loop tab 668 cooperatively engaging the first strap 617 and a second combination of a second slot 667 in the back piece 616 and a second hook and loop tab 669 cooperatively engaging the second strap 618.

The first and second straps 617 and 618 are preferably made of an elastic material, similar to the straps of the fourth embodiment of the invention 500. Given the elasticity of the first and second straps 617 and 618, another embodiment could simply rely on the elasticity of the straps 617 and 618 for adjustment, and dispense with the connecting length adjustment means. However, such an embodiment would likely accommodate a smaller range of head 100 sizes.

In the end, the retention system shown in FIG. 6 functions much the same as the first through fourth embodiments of the invention 200, 300, 400 and 500. The circular lines of retention encircle the head 100 approximating great circles, and cross each other at two points on the surface of the head 100. In the fifth embodiment of the invention 600, the point of intersection 670 is proximate the mid-point of the area of overlap of the first strap 617 and the front piece 615. Hence, the circular lines of retention criss-cross one another at two diameterically opposed points and allow inward pressure to be created as shown by the arrows 671 in FIG. 6.

A chinstrap (not shown) could optionally be used with the various embodiments of the headband 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600, especially as a secondary retention means, without significantly compromising their function.

The present invention should not be considered limited to the particular examples described above, but rather should be understood to cover all aspects of the invention as fairly set out in the claims arising from this application. For example, while suitable sizes, materials, fasteners, and the like have been disclosed in the above discussion, it should be appreciated that these are provided by way of example and not of limitation as a number of other sizes, materials, fasteners, and so forth may be used without departing from the invention. Various modifications as well as numerous structures to which the present invention may be applicable will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art to which the present invention is directed upon review of the present specifications. The claims which arise from this application are intended to cover such modifications and structures.