Title:
CORE FOR PROTECTIVE LEG GEAR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A core for a protective leg gear includes a rear pad and a front pad. The rear pad is integrally molded in a single mold from a semi-rigid lightweight material, and has a leg portion and a foot portion integrally connected to each other at an angle with respect to one another to define a rear surface of the rear pad. The rear surface includes an elongated groove configured to at least partially receive a lower part of the leg. The front pad is connected to at least part of a front surface of the rear pad. The upper portion of the front pad extends beyond the leg portion to cover the knee. The front pad is more flexible than the rear pad, such as to allow at least limited rearward folding of the upper portion of the front pad.



Inventors:
Lefebvre, Michel (Montreal, CA)
Lefebvre, Patrick (Montreal, CA)
Application Number:
11/831129
Publication Date:
04/03/2008
Filing Date:
07/31/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/05
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT CANADA LLP (MONTREAL, QC, CA)
Claims:
1. A core for protective leg gear protecting a leg, ankle and foot of a wearer, the core comprising: a rear pad integrally molded in a single mold from a semi-rigid lightweight material, the rear pad having a leg portion and a foot portion integrally connected to each other at an angle with respect to one another to define a rear surface of the rear pad, the rear surface having an elongated groove defined therein configured to at least partially receive a lower part of the leg below a knee thereof, the ankle and at least part of the foot; and a front pad connected to at least part of a front surface of the rear pad, an upper portion of the front pad extending beyond the leg portion to cover the knee, the front pad being more flexible than the rear pad such as to allow at least limited rearward folding of the upper portion of the front pad.

2. The core according to claim 1, wherein the semi-rigid lightweight material is a closed cell foam.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority on U.S. provisional patent application No. 60/834,491 filed Aug. 1, 2006, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to sports protective equipment, particularly to protective leg gear used in contact sports such as hockey.

BACKGROUND ART

Protective leg pads, particularly goalie leg pads, generally include a core made of several pieces of semi-rigid material such as foam, which are cut to relatively simple shapes and then assembled together such as by being adhered to a more flexible pad. Because of the multiplicity of pieces to be cut and assembled, the manufacture of such pads is generally labor extensive and as such relatively costly.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

It is therefore an aim of the present invention to provide an improved core for protective leg gear.

Therefore, in accordance with the present invention, there is provided a core for protective leg gear protecting a leg, ankle and foot, of a wearer, the core comprising a rear pad integrally molded in a single mold from a semi-rigid lightweight material, the rear pad having a leg portion and a foot portion integrally connected to each other at an angle with respect to one another to define a rear surface of the rear pad, the rear surface having an elongated groove defined therein configured to at least partially receive a lower part of the leg below a knee thereof, the ankle and at least part of the foot, and a front pad connected to at least part of a front surface of the rear pad, an upper portion of the front pad extending beyond the leg portion to cover the knee, the front pad being more flexible than the rear pad such as to allow at least limited rearward folding of the upper portion of the front pad.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Reference will now be made to the accompanying drawings, showing by way of illustration a particular embodiment of the present invention and in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a goalie pad core including a rear pad in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the rear pad of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of the rear pad of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of the rear pad of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 5 is a bottom view of the rear pad of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PARTICULAR EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to FIG. 1, a core 10 for a protective leg gear, such as for example a hockey goalie pad, is shown. The core 10 comprises a rear pad 12 as well as an upper front pad 14 and a lower front pad 16 connected thereto. The core 10 is generally received in an envelope (not shown), usually with other padding and/or cushioning elements (not shown) such as to form a protective pad adapted to at least partially contain and protect the leg and foot of the wearer.

Referring to FIG. 3, the rear pad 12 includes an elongated central strip 18 located between two elongated side strips 20, 20′ in a side-by-side manner and connected thereto. In the embodiment shown, the connection between the side strips 20, 20′ and the central strip 18 is discontinuous, with a series of oblong slots 22 being defined through the rear pad 12 (see also FIG. 4) at the junction between the strips 18, 20, 20′. The oblong slots 22 are used to thread attachment means (not shown) therethrough, such as an adequate type of thread, to attach the rear pad 12 to the upper front pad 14 and/or to other elements of the completed protective pad, e.g. the outer envelope (not shown) or other pads (not shown). Alternately, in cases when the assembly of the rear pads 12 with other elements of the completed protective pad does not require threading of an attachment element therethrough, the connection between the side strips 20, 20′ and the central strip 18 can be continuous.

Referring to FIGS. 2-3, the connected central and side strips 18, 20, 20′ have aligned transverse bends 24, such as to together define a foot portion 26 and a leg portion 28 of the rear pad 12, the foot and leg portions 26, 28 extending at an angle with respect to each other. The side strips 20, 20′ have a substantially triangular profile in each of the foot and leg portions 26, 28 with the larger thickness in both portions 26, 28 being located at or near the bend 24. As such, the rear pad 12 has upper and lower ends 30, 32 that are tapered.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 5, each side strip 20, 20′ has an exterior side surface 34′ a rear surface 36 which is substantially perpendicular to the exterior side surface 34, and an interior side surface 38 which is angled with respect to the rear surface 36 such as to extend toward the central strip 18.

The central strip 18 has a rear surface 42 frontwardly offset from the rear surfaces 36 of the side strips 20, 20′, and side surfaces 44 angled with respect to the rear surface 42 such as to extend toward the adjacent side strip 20, 20′. The oblong slots 22, as well as the junction between the strips 18, 20, 20′ are defined at the meeting point between each side surface 44 of the central strip 18 and the adjacent interior side surface 38 of the corresponding side strip 20.

The central and side strips 18, 20, 20′ are manufactured together as a single piece of material, such as to reduce the time and labor involved in the manufacture of the rear pad 12. In a particular embodiment, the central and side strips 18, 20, 20′ are integrally molded in a single mold.

Thus, the integral strips 18, 20, 20′ of the rear pad 12 define the foot and leg portions 26, 28 which extend at an angle with respect to each other. Referring particularly to FIG. 3, the strips 18, 20, 20′ together define a rear surface 48 of the rear pad 12 which is substantially convex due to the bend 24 in the strips 18, 20, 20′ i.e. outwardly rounded at the bend 24 between the foot and leg portions 26, 28. The rear surface 48 of the pad 12 has an elongated groove 50 formed therein which is defined by the interior side surfaces 38 of the side strips 20, 20′ and by the rear and side surfaces 42, 44 of the central strip 18. This groove 50 is configured to receive the front of a lower part of the leg, of the ankle and of at least part of the foot of the wearer therein, i.e. the relative thickness of the central and side strips 18, 20, 20′ as well as the geometry of the central strip 18 and of the side strip interior side surfaces 38 are selected such as to adequately surround the front of the leg, ankle and foot. In use, the upper end 30 of the rear pad 12 is located below the knee of the wearer, i.e. the knee is not contained in the elongated groove 50.

As can be seen more clearly in FIG. 5, one of the side strips 20′ is narrower than the other side strip 20. In use, the narrower side strip 20′ surrounds the inner side of the leg, and the wider side strip 20 surrounds the outer side of the leg. Protective leg pads often tend to prevent the leg from rotating, thus significantly reducing the freedom of movement of the wearer. The narrower inner side strip 20′ reduces interference between the two leg pads of the wearer, thus allowing an improved rotation of the leg, and an increased freedom of movement.

Referring to FIG. 4, the integral strips 18, 20 also define a continuous, substantially planar front surface 52 in the leg portion 28 of the rear pad 12, and a continuous, substantially planar front surface 54 in the foot portion 26 of the rear pad 12. The rear pad 12 also has a transverse groove 56 defined therein at the junction between the front surfaces 52, 54 in order to increase flexibility at the bend 24.

The rear pad 12 is made from a semi-rigid lightweight material. The material is sufficiently rigid to maintain a desired shape in use without the need for additional reinforcement while being sufficiently flexible to allow return to its initial shape after a slight deformation without damage. In a particular embodiment the semi-rigid lightweight material is expanded (i.e. closed cell) polyethylene (EPE) foam.

Referring back to FIG. 1, the lower front pad 16 is adhered to the front surface 54 of the foot portion 26 of the rear pad 12, and the upper front pad 14 is adhered to the front surface 52 of the leg portion 28 of the rear pad 12, without obstructing the transverse groove 56 defined opposite the bend 24. The upper front pad 14 is longer than the leg portion 28 and as such extends upwardly beyond the leg portion 28 to protect an upper portion of the leg, covering at least the knee of the wearer. The upper front pad 14 is more flexible than the rear pad 12 such as to allow the upper front pad 14 to fold toward the leg of the wearer above the rear pad 12 for an increased flexibility at the knee joint of the wearer.

The front pads 14, 16 can be made of a single layer of material, or alternately include multiple layers of a same material or of different materials. In a particular embodiment, the front pads 14, 16 each include a flexible layer 58 of flexible material such as for example low density polyethylene foam which is adhered to the respective front surface 52, 54 of the leg and foot portions 28, 26, and a rigid layer 60 of substantially rigid material such as for example high density polyethylene foam, which is adhered to a front surface 62 of the flexible layer 58. The rigid layer 60 of the upper front pad 14 includes separate pieces 64 defining transverse breaks 66 therebetween in the portion of the upper front pad 14 protruding from the rear pad 12, such as to allow folding of the upper front pad 14 along the breaks 66. An additional pad 68 can also be provided rearwardly of the upper front pad 14 above the rear pad 12.

The core 10 thus has the advantages of being composed of few pieces to be assembled, thus reducing the number of assembly operations and as such the manufacturing costs. The single piece semi-rigid rear pad 12 offers adequate protection to the ankle joint, which in many prior art designs is only protected by flexible, cushioning-type material which can be penetrated relatively easily. Flexibility at the knee joint is provided by the more flexible upper front pad 14 protruding from the rear pad 12 and protecting the knee.

In addition, having the rear pad 12 made of a single piece eliminates the adhesive retaining the multiple pieces in prior art pads, which reduces the weight of the rear pad 12 and as such the weight of the bottom of the core 10, allowing the weight of the core 10 to be more adequately balanced throughout its height. This improves the stability of the completed protective pad, and renders the pad less cumbersome on the leg of the wearer.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary. Those skilled in the art will therefore appreciate that the foregoing description is illustrative only, and that various alternate configurations and modifications can be devised without departing from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternate configurations, modifications and variances which fall within the scope of the appended claims.