Title:
BASE SUPPORT MEMBER FOR TRAVEL BAG
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A base support to support a bag can include a bottom, a back, and a pair of side portions each coupled to the back at curved joints. A plurality of reinforcement ribs can be configured along the bottom, back, and side portions to resist bending. The base support is formed from a single piece of material without corners and/or seams. The base support back portion, bottom portion, and side portions blend smoothly into one another and the base support is configured to accommodate at least a portion of the travel bag.



Inventors:
Herold, Jeffrey C. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/427047
Publication Date:
10/26/2006
Filing Date:
06/28/2006
Assignee:
West Coast Trends, Inc. (Huntington Beach, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
206/315.3
International Classes:
B65D65/02; A63B55/00
View Patent Images:
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20060006036Multiple pocket storage and travel caseJanuary, 2006Godshaw et al.
20050028909Article of luggageFebruary, 2005Matlhako
20080202960Disposable toothbrush cover and method of usingAugust, 2008Donohue
20060144487Protective cover for a handbag and combinationJuly, 2006Bockey
20090320978Sound-emitting walletDecember, 2009Martinez
20080110537Smart HandbagMay, 2008Marmaropoulos et al.
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Primary Examiner:
WEAVER, SUE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DONN K. HARMS (DEL MAR, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A base support to support a bag, comprising: a bottom, a back, and a pair of side portions each coupled to the back at curved joints; and a plurality of reinforcement ribs configured along the bottom, back, and side portions to resist bending; wherein the base support is formed from a single piece of material without corners and/or seams.

2. The base support of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of wheel wells coupled to the bottom.

3. The base support of claim 1 wherein the plurality of reinforcement ribs are configured along a longitudinal direction and a transverse direction.

4. The base support of claim 2 wherein the plurality of wheel wells are coupled to the plurality of reinforcement ribs.

5. The base support of claim 1 further comprising a stand pad extending downwardly from the bottom to form a three point stand in combination with a pair of wheels coupled to the bottom.

6. The base support of claim 1 further comprising a surface relief pattern coupled to an exterior of the back to support indicia of text or design.

7. The base support of claim 1 wherein at least some of the plurality of reinforcement ribs are integral to the single piece of material.

8. The base support of claim 1 wherein the base support is fabricated using a thermoform molding process.

9. The base support of claim 1 further comprising a plurality of wheel wells integrally formed in the bottom.

10. The base support of claim 1 wherein a ridge of a wheel well is formed integrally with at least one of the plurality of reinforcement ribs.

11. The base support of claim 1 further comprising the bag attached to the base support, wherein the bag includes a top portion that is tapered relative to the rest of the bag.

12. The base support of claim 11 further comprising a padded section in the top portion.

13. The base support of claim 11 further comprising a strap employed about the top portion so objects in the bag cannot move easily.

14. The base support of claim 1 further comprising the bag attached to the base support, webbing affixed to the exterior surface of the bag, and adjustment means coupled to the webbing to allow a user to cinch contents in the bag.

15. The base support of claim 1 further comprising the bag attached to the base support, webbing affixed to the exterior surface of the bag, and a zipper operable to open and close the bag, wherein the webbing is configured to relieve pressure on the zipper during opening and closing.

16. The base support of claim 1 further comprising the bag attached to the base support, and webbing affixed to the exterior surface of the bag and to the base support.

17. The base support of claim 1 further comprising the bag attached to the base support, and webbing affixed to the exterior surface of the bag, and a fastener to couple the bag and the webbing to the base support.

18. A base support for a travel bag comprising: a back portion, a bottom portion, and side portions, wherein the back, bottom, and side portions of the base support blend smoothly into one another and the base support is configured to accommodate at least a portion of the travel bag.

19. The base support of claim 18 further comprising: reinforcement ribs, wherein the reinforcement ribs are operable to strengthen the base support against bending.

20. The base support of claim 18 further comprising: reinforcement ribs integrally formed in the base support.

21. The base support of claim 18 further comprising: wheel wells integrally formed in the base support, wherein the wheel wells are positioned between the back and bottom portions.

22. The base support of claim 19 further comprising a wheel well formed integrally with at least one of the reinforcement ribs.

23. The base support of claim 18 further comprising the bag attached to the base support.

24. The base support of claim 23 further comprising at least one of the group comprising: padding in at least a portion of the bag, a top portion of the bag that is tapered relative to the rest of the bag, a strap employed about the top portion so objects in the bag cannot move easily, webbing affixed to the exterior surface of the bag, adjustment means coupled to the webbing to allow a user to cinch contents in the bag, a zipper operable to open and close the bag wherein the webbing is configured to relieve pressure on the zipper during opening and closing, and a fastener to couple the bag and the webbing to the base support.

25. The base support of claim 18 further comprising: one or more pads positioned on bottom of base support, wherein the pads are spaced a suitable distance from wheels in the base support to contact the ground and stabilize the base support in a standing position.

26. The base support of claim 25 wherein the pads are tapered so that base support tilts back slightly when placed in a standing position.

27. The base support of claim 25 wherein the pads are positioned on reinforcement ribs wherein the reinforcement ribs add strength to the base support.

28. The base support of claim 27 wherein a wheel well is integrated into one of the reinforcement ribs.

29. A base support for a travel bag comprising: a bottom portion; at least one wheel attached to the base support; at least one pad spaced a suitable distance from the at least one wheel, wherein the at least one pad is tapered from front to back and configured to contact the ground and stabilize the base support to prevent the base support from tipping forward when placed in a standing position.

30. The base support of claim 29 wherein the at least on pad is attached to attached to the base support.

31. The base support of claim 29 wherein the at least on pad is formed integral to the base support.

32. The base support of claim 29 further comprising a reinforcement rib, wherein the at least one pad is configured on the reinforcement rib.

Description:

BACKGROUND

The frequent traveler is well aware of need for high quality travel bags. Transit systems tend to be quite taxing on baggage of low quality. Bags get stuck, tom, ripped or snagged on equipment such as doors, escalators, conveyors, carts, handrails, armrests, among others. As travel bags tend to be heavy when loaded, they may be equipped with wheels to facilitate transport across smooth floors. Wheels are typically mounted into the bottom of such bags. An additional feature may include a handle. Handles are sometimes retractable into the bag such that the bag occupies a smaller space and allows for convenient storage.

Some bags are designed for very heavy loads. Commonly known as “duffel” bags, a flexible material forms an enclosure into which objects may be packed. For example, a bag designed to carry sporting equipment may be made of strong canvas and reinforced at the seams with webbing or alternative durable materials. These bags may be particularly suited for carrying large and bulky objects which cause increased wear on the bags.

Perhaps the most sophisticated experts with regard to travel bags include airline personnel. Flight attendants and pilots often tote a wheeled bag through airports and hotel lobbies. The bag is typically made of durable canvas or similar cloth material with a retractable handle. The bag is pulled behind the user while the bottom is supported on two wheels in contact with the floor. The wheels are preferably quite small and are sometimes built into the bag at wheel wells which are riveted to the canvas bottom. These bags are conveniently designed to fit the compartments of airplanes. They are durable in design, but tend to support a load of only a few tens of pounds. As such, the material used to form the bags is generally only mildly resistant to high friction loads. The corners of these bags are generally made of soft materials, which tend to get caught on various objects including sharp metallic objects such as those of which a conveyor might be comprised. The metallic objects tend to tear and destroy the bags. Additionally, the wheels are sometimes subject to very high impact force and may easily break away from the canvas bag to which they are attached. These travel bags may be dragged up or down stairs.

Designers have included ribs made of plastic which run in a longitudinal direction down the back of the bag. These ribs may help allow the bag to be dragged over a bumpy surface such as stairs. However, the ribs are usually attached to the soft material of the bag by rivet or adhesives. Objects may operate to tear the ribs from the bag when they engage the ends of the ribs.

Most travel luggage can be classified as either “soft” luggage or “hard” luggage. Soft luggage is lightweight and more easily made compact for storage; while hard luggage tends to be more bulky. However, hard luggage is quite strong and may stand up to extreme conditions that act to wear or damage the luggage. Soft luggage is more easily destroyed by conditions to which it may be exposed in normal use. It would be desirable to provide luggage that benefits from the advantages offered by each of these types of luggage, without having the problems associated with either.

SUMMARY

In some embodiments, a base support to support a bag includes a bottom, a back, and a pair of side portions each coupled to the back at curved joints. A plurality of reinforcement ribs are configured along the bottom, back, and side portions to resist bending. The base support is formed from a single piece of material without corners and/or seams.

In other embodiments, a base support for a travel bag includes a back portion, a bottom portion, and side portions. The back, bottom, and side portions of the base support blend smoothly into one another and the base support is configured to accommodate at least a portion of the travel bag.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects, and advantages of embodiments of the present invention will become better understood with regard to the following description, appended claims and drawings where:

FIG. 1 illustrates a combination of a bag and a base member that form an embodiment of a travel bag;

FIG. 2 shows a front side view of a travel bag of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a detailed drawing of a base element of the travel bag of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a base support that includes one or more pads positioned on bottom of the base support.

FIG. 5 shows a side view of the base support of FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a base support that includes pads positioned on reinforcement ribs.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Travel bags of the invention are particularly characterized by having two primary members which are configured and arranged to cooperate together as a single unit. Accordingly, such travel bags are comprised of a base member and a bag member. The base member is affixed to the bag member at one end to protect the bag, provide support thereto, and provide a support for wheels which aid transporting the travel bag. The base member is formed of a rigid durable material such as hard plastic, while the bag is formed of a flexible material such as Nylon™ Cordura™ fabric. The base and bag members are shaped as complements such that the bag may be matingly received into a partially enclosed cavity formed by the base. The bag may be firmly affixed to the base to form a combination.

A travel bag is therefore comprised of two primary elements: a base and a bag member. The bag member may have additional features which include, among others, webbing reinforcements, handles, accessory pockets, a “D”-ring, indicia, and padding. The base member may have additional features which include, among others, reinforcement ribs, wheel wells, three or more point stand, identifying indicia, wheels, curved joints, etc.

With reference to drawing FIG. 1, which shows a back side of a travel bag, one may appreciate a more complete understanding of embodiments of the invention. A plastic base member 101 is affixed to a bag member 102. In some embodiments, the main body of the bag is formed from a single piece of material which has been wrapped about an axis in a substantially cylindrical shape. It is noted that the bag may be formed with multiple pieces of material joined together to form a single piece of material.

Perpendicular to the axis, the bag member has a top section 103 and a bottom section 104. The bag may additionally have a tapered portion 105 at the top of the main body. The base 101 forms a partially enclosed cavity. The back portion 106 of the base meets a side portion 107 and a bottom portion 108 at curved joints. Rivets 109 may be used to hold the bag and base members together. To improve strength, the base portion may additionally include reinforcing ribs 110 while the bag may incorporate reinforcing longitudinal webbing 111 and circumferential webbing 112.

A handle 113 may be formed and affixed by rivets 114 to the top section of the bag. Other suitable fasteners may be used in addition to or instead of rivets. Two strips of longitudinal webbing on the back of the bag may come together to form a loop 115 which may be grabbed together with the handle. Two wheels 116 may be coupled to the bottom of the base member as shown.

FIG. 2 is shows how the front side of a travel bag of the invention may look. Two strips of longitudinal webbing 201 may run down the body portion from the top section to the bottom section on either side of a zipper opening 202. Two handles 203 may be affixed to the webbing as shown. A strip of circumferential webbing may form a complete or closed loop and be fastened at two piece buckle 204. A rectangular accessory pocket 205 may be formed of a single layer of material having a pleated 206 arrangement. The pocket may have three of its edges 207 held flush to the surface of the body portion of the bag under longitudinal and circumferential webbing. Additionally, the pocket may have a zippered opening 208 which is arranged in close proximity to the longitudinal webbing for strength. Finally, a “D”-ring 209 accessory may be attached to the top section of the bag.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of base member 301 in detail before it is attached to a bag. Reinforcement ribs 302 may extend both longitudinally and laterally to add strength against flexing. The periphery of the base member is defined by a lip 303 which is continuous and without corners. The figure illustrates a hidden line 304 (broken) to further detail the peripheral lip. Indicia 305 may be formed in surface relief pattern. A pad element 306 disposed on the bottom of the base element forms part of a three point stand. A transverse axis 307 along the joint between the base back and bottom-provides alignment for wheels which may be coupled and set into wheel wells 308.

The base member may be described further in detail as follows. It may be formed in a molding process with a single flat sheet of high impact resistant plastic for example. The material may be drilled to accommodate rivets or other types of fasteners. Other suitable means of fastening or attaching the travel bag to the base member may be used. The sheet of suitable thickness, for example between approximately ⅛ inches and ¼ inches in thickness, can be shaped while heated. Sometimes called “thermoform”, the shaping process allows a complex shape to be realized from a simple extruded plastic source material. The complex shape easily supports many features important to the function of bags, some of which include: seamless joints; reinforcement ribs; wheel wells; bag standing pad; relief pattern indicia; among others.

Because corners and seams tend to become damaged as a result of stresses which may be incident thereon, it is useful to provide a base member which takes a form without seams and corners. Accordingly, the back, bottom and side portions of the base member blend smoothly into one another by way of gently curved joints. The plastic material from which the base is made is bent to form the joint which may have a minimum radius of about 2 centimeters at any curve. In this way, a nice transition is formed which allows the base to be free from corners and seams.

Reinforcement ribs can run across both or either the length and width of the three portions, the back, bottom and or sides may be integrally formed into the plastic. A simple ridge rising above the surface of the plastic blank material from which the base is made can form a reinforcement rib. Ribs so formed give strength to the base member against bending. For example, the back portion lies substantially in a single plane. By pulling at two opposing edges while pushing in the middle, one tends to bend the piece out of its natural plane. However, ribs formed into the section as described tend to resist such bending and increase the overall strength of the piece.

Reinforcement ribs of the art tend to be separate elements which are screwed to or otherwise fastened to a planar element. These require extra labor and materials to fabricate. In addition, they may fail more easily than a rib which is an integral part of the device itself which cannot be separated from the base as it is part thereof.

Thermoform processes are also particularly useful for forming wheel wells into the single piece base member. A ridge which protrudes from the surface on either side of a trough form a single wheel well which supports an axle positioned transversely with respect to the longitudinal direction of the rib and trough. Each ridge can be formed of two thicknesses of base material. Two of such wheel wells may be formed about a single transverse axis.

In addition, the ridge of a wheel well may be integrated together with a reinforcement rib which runs substantially the length of a base portion such as the back. In this way, strong forces incident on the wheels get absorbed by the rib and distributed over a maximal surface region of the base.

Another feature of the base member includes one or more standing pad elements. In order to provide the bag with means of standing upright, a three or more point stand can be formed by a simple bump pad in the surface which extends downwardly from the bottom portion. In some embodiments, a single pad is arranged symmetrically between the wheels but displaced from their axis cooperates with the wheels as the third point of a three point stand. The wheels form each of the other two points. The wheels being free to roll tend to cause the stand to be unstable and free to move. However, the third point provides high friction contact with a floor on which it sets thereby preventing advancement of the bag via the wheels.

FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of base support 400 that includes one or more pads 402 positioned on bottom 404 of base support 400. Pads 402 are generally spaced a suitable distance from wheels 406 to contact the ground and stabilize base support 400 in a standing position. Pads 402 can also be tapered from front to back, as indicated by tapered pads 403 in FIG. 5, so that base support tilts back slightly when placed in a standing position. A tilted orientation can help prevent a travel bag attached to base support 400 from tipping over. This is especially true when the travel bag 102 (FIG. 1) is heavily loaded in areas that extend outside of base support 400. Pads 403 can be attached to or formed integrally in base support 400.

FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of base support 600 that includes pads 602 attached or formed integral to reinforcement ribs 604. Ribs 604 can be integrated in base support 600 to provide additional strength to the structure of base support 600. In the embodiment shown, wheel wells 606 are integrated in ribs 604, however, ribs 604 can be configured without wheel wells 606.

Finally, another feature that can be included in the thermo-formed base member is a surface relief pattern. The pattern may support indicia of text or design which may carry a trademark for identification purposes or possibly aesthetic design.

The bag member may be described in detail as follows. It may be formed by sewing together several sections of flexible cloth material. The bag member can be comprised of three sections. A top section, a bottom section and a body section sewn together to form an enclosure. The body section can be comprised of a single, continuous piece of material without seams. Two edges form mating edges and are joined together as the single piece body is rolled about a longitudinal axis to form a cylindrical shape. The upper portion of the body may be tapered in some versions. So formed, the top and bottom sections may be positioned orthogonal to the cylindrical axis and sewn to the bottom and top edges respectively of the body section thus forming an enclosure.

The bag member includes an opening along its length which may be secured by a zipper or Velcro® type fasteners. As such the edges of the single piece may be joined together as mates in accordance with the fastener type. For this disclosure, the opening is said to be on the “front side” of the bag member.

The bottom of the bag member, at its backside, may be fastened to the base member. This may be accomplished with rivet and/or other suitable fasteners, which may be additionally supported by adhesives or sewing. A small hole may be drilled or punched through the flexible material of the bag and through the rigid material of the base at corresponding positions. A rivet or other suitable fastener can be used to hold the bag firmly to the base.

Travel bags of the invention may be used to carry sporting equipment such as golf gear. Since golf is a highly visible sport covered extensively by the media, sponsors of the sport enjoy having their names and trademarks prominently displayed on equipment. Therefore, the sides of the bag may support the application of indicia such as a silk-screened logo. Alternatively, a logo may be sewn, embroidered, or otherwise affixed to the sides of the bag.

In order that one may be able to move and manipulate the travel bag, specialized handles are arranged. These handles are placed in the front of the bag and the top section of the bag. The handles may be a simple strap affixed at two ends to the bag. A plurality of fasteners such as rivets may be used in conjunction with sewing and/or adhesives to form a bond.

On the front of the bag, two handles, one on either side of the zippered opening and parallel thereto, operate together. They are positioned so that they may easily be grabbed together as one. A single handle, again a strap fastened at two ends, forms a top handle. The top handle is particularly useful for pulling the bag along on its wheels whereby the bag follows behind a person pulling it.

Travel bags of the art have sometimes provided large boxy pockets sewn to the outside surface of the bag. These are generally used to store bulky items such as shoes.

These pockets tend to become caught upon sharp objects and be tom away from the bag. To remedy this problem, travel bags of the invention provide a new pocket design. A pleated arrangement allows pocket edges to be sewn flush to the outside surface of the bag. The pleats allow the pocket to expand outward while allowing the edges to remain attached flush the pocket may be simple rectangular with four edges. A zipper opening may be formed near on edge, preferably a longer edge. To create a balanced bag, two pockets may be formed. One each being sewn to the bag symmetrically placed about the bag opening forms a balanced bag.

A special taper and padding arrangement may be configured to restrain objects in the top of the bag. It is sometimes desirable to prevent objects from freely moving about inside the bag enclosure. The objects may tend to bang together and perhaps may be damaged from such banging. Therefore, to provide restraint for items in the top of the bag, the top is formed with a taper. The girth of the bag is wider everywhere in comparison to the top-most portion of the bag. In addition, a padding is affixed onto the inner surface of the bag. Finally, a strap is employed about the taper section to cinch down on the objects and padding to form secure containment whereby objects will not easily move about the top section of the bag.

Because travel bags may be subject to extreme stress due to over packing, travel bags of the invention include a specialized system of webbing. Webbing is affixed, by sewing or gluing for example, to the exterior surface of the bag member. Webbing is arranged in two general configurations. For strength along the length of the bag, longitudinal strips may be attached. For strength against radial expansion, or strength to resist bursting, webbing is provided about an axial configuration.

A strap may form a closed loop when two ends are coupled by a buckle having mating portions. Such closed loop configuration may additionally be provided an adjustment means so that the straps may be cinched down after a bag has been packed thus holding contents securely in place. In the longitudinal direction or about the length of the bag, a webbing may be attached at the top section of the bag running across the body and having a second end affixed at the bottom section of the bag. Two strips placed on the front side of the bag on either side of a zipper which otherwise vulnerable to bursting pressure.

Two handles may be formed to cooperate with longitudinal webbing pieces each attached to either piece of the webbing. When the handles are brought together and held or joined as one, the bag may be grabbed so that the weight of its contents act on the webbing but not on the zipper. The handles ends may directly be fastened to the webbing via rugged fasteners such as rivets. Strong forces pulling on the handles are transmitted along the length of the bag via the webbing.

Two longitudinal strips may additionally be affixed to the surface of the back at the backside. These two webbing strips may form a loop at the top portion. The loop may be held or joined to a handle. The top handle may be affixed on its two ends to the top section of the bag. When the loop and top handle are grabbed together, strong pulling forces are transmitted along the webbing and provide relief to the bag which may otherwise suffer from vigorous pulling on the handle.

Webbing may be arranged about the circumference of the bag at any or at various places. Circumferential webbing forms a closed loop configuration which may be opened via a buckle. Buckles attached to the webbing may be placed at the zippered opening and opened and closed to allow easy access to the enclosed portion of the bag. Circumferential webbing is arranged to provide strength against bursting and adds support to the bag opening. As great stress tends to break zippers on some bags, the circumferential reinforcement is designed to resist bursting pressure at the zipper. The buckled straps will hold tight the load in the bag and allow the zipper to operate to open and close the bag without being damaged from heavily loaded bags. Additionally, the webbing which forms a closed loop may be arranged to hold down the edges of an accessory pocket.

The webbing not only cooperates with the bag member, but it additionally cooperates with the base member. To further transmit pulling forces to the strongest portion of the travel bag, the webbing strips may be riveted to the base. Webbing is first attached to the bag member and then the bag and webbing assembly is attached to the base member. A hole may be punched through the center of the webbing, through the bag material, and through the base member. A rivet binds the three together to form a very strong joint. A plurality of such rivet joints may be formed at various places where the bag, webbing and base may be collocated.

Webbing may also be arranged to cooperate with the accessory pockets. The edges of the pockets sewn to the surface of the body section of the bag, may be covered and additionally secured by webbing. Particularly along the edge of the pocket closest to the bag zipper opening. Additionally, the two edges lateral edges of the pockets may be sewn under axial webbing straps. With three of four edges sewn under webbing, the pockets may be stuffed quite full and still withstand the load. Additionally, they will be protected at their edges from objects which tend to tear and damage pockets sewn to the outside of typical travel bags.

The accessory pockets have openings which may be closed with zippers. The zippers may be placed in close proximity to the webbing so that most of the load is taken by the webbing. A zipper placed from about 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches allows full access to the pockets while providing security for the pocket.

Finally the webbing is arranged to cooperate with a ‘D’-ring at the top of the bag. A ‘D’-ring affixed to the webbing provides a strong element from which to hang or clip objects to. A garment bag may lay secure and substantially flat onto the front of the travel bag if it is clipped to the ‘D’-ring.

While the present disclosure describes various embodiments, these embodiments are to be understood as illustrative and do not limit the claim scope. Many variations, modifications, additions and improvements of the described embodiments are possible. For example, those having ordinary skill in the art will readily implement the processes necessary to provide the structures and methods disclosed herein. Variations and modifications of the embodiments disclosed herein may also be made while remaining within the scope of the following claims. In the claims, unless otherwise indicated the article “a” is to refer to “one or more than one”.