Title:
HAT AND PROTECTIVE HELMET
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A helmet/hat includes a helmet sized for an associated user's head. The helmet provides impact protection to the associated user's head. A hat covers at least a portion of the helmet and substantially disguises an outer shape of the helmet from view. A fastener is removably secured to the hat and to the helmet. The fastener may secure a retention ring to the hat.



Inventors:
Lin, Paul S. (Winfield, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/869299
Publication Date:
04/10/2008
Filing Date:
10/09/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/175.1, 2/410, 2/425
International Classes:
A42B1/24; A42B1/00; A63B71/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
TOMPKINS, ALISSA JILL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP (Cleveland, OH, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A helmet/hat, comprising: a helmet sized for an associated user's head, the helmet providing impact protection to the associated user's head; a hat covering at least a portion of the helmet and substantially disguising an outer shape of the helmet from view; and a fastener to removably secure the hat to the helmet.

2. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, wherein the hat substantially covers all of the helmet from view.

3. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, wherein the hat includes a brim.

4. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, wherein the helmet includes a headband for securing the helmet to the associated user's head.

5. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, further including: a retention ring, the fastener securing the retention ring to the hat.

6. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 5, wherein the retention ring is secured on an exterior of the hat.

7. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 5, further including a cover around at least a portion of the retention ring.

8. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 5, wherein the retention ring is continuous.

9. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 5, wherein the retention ring is selectively continuous/discontinuous, the helmet/hat further including: a retention ring fastener for selectively fastening/unfastening ends of the retention ring.

10. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, wherein the helmet is contoured to accommodate corresponding contours in the hat.

11. The helmet/hat as set forth in claim 1, wherein the hat is a relatively softer material than the helmet.

12. A head protection system, comprising: a helmet sized for an associated user's head and providing impact protection to the associated user's head; a hat covering at least a portion of the helmet and substantially disguising an outer shape of the helmet from view; and means for removably securing the hat to the helmet.

13. The head protection system as set forth in claim 12, wherein the means for removably securing includes: a fastener.

14. The head protection system as set forth in claim 12, wherein the means for removably securing includes: a retention ring including fasteners securing the retention ring to the hat and the helmet.

15. The head protection system as set forth in claim 14, wherein the retention ring is continuous.

16. The head protection system as set forth in claim 15, further including: a cover around at least a portion of the retention ring.

17. A method of protecting a user's head from impact, the method comprising: fitting a helmet to the user's head, the helmet protecting the head against impact injury; at least partially covering the helmet with a hat; substantially disguising an outer shape of the helmet from view; and removably securing the hat to the helmet.

18. The method of protecting a user's head from impact as set forth in claim 17, wherein the step of removably securing includes: securing a fastener to the helmet and the hat.

19. The method of protecting a user's head from impact as set forth in claim 18, further including: securing a retention ring around at least a portion of the hat; and securing the fastener to the retention ring.

20. The method of protecting a user's head from impact as set forth in claim 17, further including: unsecuring the hat from the helmet; and removably securing a second hat to the helmet.

Description:

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/828,752, filed Oct. 9, 2006, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to protective head gear. It finds particular application in conjunction with protective head gear for horse riders and will be described with particular reference thereto. It will be appreciated, however, that the invention is also amenable to other applications.

It is well documented that falls from a height, such as from riding a horse, especially at a high rate of speed, are associated with thousands of head injuries each year. Helmets are available for offering head protection to horse riders. However, these helmets are typically English style or racing helmets that are shunned by Western style riders.

It is not uncommon for young children under the supervision of their parents to wear a variety of helmets ranging from English style helmets to bicycle helmets. However, as their age, skill, and/or independence increase(s), the Western style riders become less concerned about safety and more concerned about style and vanity. One reason for this lack of regard for safety may be the iconic American cowboy, who is recognized throughout the world for his/her stylish hat—not his/her safety helmet.

The present invention provides a new and improved apparatus and method which addresses the above-referenced problems.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment, a helmet/hat includes a helmet sized for an associated user's head. The helmet provides impact protection to the associated user's head. A hat covers at least a portion of the helmet and substantially disguises an outer shape of the helmet from view. A fastener is removably secured to the hat and to the helmet. The fastener may secure a retention ring to the hat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the accompanying drawings which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, embodiments of the invention are illustrated, which, together with a general description of the invention given above, and the detailed description given below, serve to exemplify the embodiments of this invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates an exploded view of a helmet/hat system in accordance with one embodiment of an apparatus illustrating principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a retention ring and retention ring cover in accordance with one embodiment of an apparatus illustrating principles of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a retention ring cover in accordance with another embodiment of an apparatus illustrating principles of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 illustrates a helmet/hat system in accordance with another embodiment of an apparatus illustrating principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENT

With reference to FIG. 1, an apparatus is shown illustrating principles in one embodiment of the present invention that addresses the need for protective head gear for a horse rider (e.g., a Western style horse rider).

In the illustrated embodiment of the present invention, a helmet/hat system 10 comprises three (3) parts: i) a protective helmet 12; ii) a hat 14; and iii) a retention ring 16.

The first part of the illustrated helmet/hat system 10 includes the helmet 12, which provides protection against injuries (e.g., head injuries) due to impact with, for example, the ground.

In the illustrated embodiment, the helmet 12 has a brimless shape and a low profile.

It is contemplated that the hat 14 may be one of a plurality of configurations of a cowboy hat. For example, the hat 14 may include one or both of two (2) common hat crown configurations (e.g., a pinched contoured area 20 at the top and/or a pinched contoured area 22 at the front of the hat 14).

It is contemplated that the exterior surface of the helmet 12 includes a plurality of recessed contoured areas 24, 26 (e.g., two (2)) for accommodating the pinched area(s) 20, 22 in the various configurations of the hat 14. For example, the illustrated embodiment includes the first recessed area 24 toward the top exterior surface of the helmet 12 and a second recessed area 26 toward the front exterior surface of the helmet 12 to accommodate the illustrated hat 14, which includes the top and front pinched areas 20, 22, respectively. It is to be understood that although certain areas 24, 26 of the helmet 12 are recessed, those areas 24, 26 still provide protection against injuries due to impact.

It is to be understood that although the illustrated embodiment includes a hat 14 with two (2) pinched areas 20, 22 and a helmet 12 with two (2) corresponding recessed areas 24, 26, other embodiments are also contemplates. For example, another embodiment may include a plurality of recessed areas on the helmet 12 while the hat 14 includes zero (0), one (1), or two (2) pinched areas. A helmet 12 including a plurality of recessed areas (e.g., the two recessed areas 24, 26) may be considered a “universal” helmet for accommodating various configurations of hats (e.g., hats including zero (0), one (1), two (2), or any number of pinched areas). If the helmet includes a number of recessed areas that is greater than the number of pinched areas on a hat used with the helmet at any time, the additional recessed areas of the helmet are simply not used.

It is contemplated that the protective helmet 12 may be available in a variety of sizes. For example, the helmet 12 may be provided in three (3) sizes (i.e., small or children's, medium, and large). In addition, the helmet 12 may include at least one (1) liner 30 (e.g., a cushioned liner) on the inside surface, and/or a headband 32, which may be adjustable. A securing mechanism 34 (e.g., a clip-lock, nylon web band, etc.) may be positioned to close or secure the headband 32 under an associated user's (wearer's) chin to secure the helmet 12 in the user's head. The size of the helmet 12, the cushioned liner(s) 30, and/or the adjustable headband 32 cooperate to insure a secure fit for the wearer.

The hat 14 in the illustrated embodiment is a material relatively softer than the helmet 12. For example, the hat 14 may be a soft cowboy hat. Although the hat 14 may not offer much in the way of protection against impact, the hat 14 may provide a level of protection from rain and sun via an upper central portion 36 and a brim 40 of the hat 14. A volume defined under the upper, central portion 36 of the hat 14 is sized to fit over the helmet 12. In one embodiment, the volume under the upper, central portion 36 is sized to substantially exactly fit over at least a portion of the helmet 12 when properly matched. In the illustrated embodiment, the top pinched area 20 of the hat 14 fits into the corresponding like-shaped front recessed area 24 on the front of the helmet 12 and the front pinched area 22 of the hat 14 fits into the corresponding like-shaped top recessed area 26 on the top of the helmet (e.g., like fingers in a glove). In this manner, the hat 14 substantially covers at least a portion of (or all of) the helmet 12 from view. In addition, the hat 14 substantially disguises (hides or covers) an outer shape of the helmet 12 from view. With the outer shape of the helmet hidden from view, individuals (e.g., horse riders) are offered impact protection to their heads without sacrificing the cosmetic appearance offered by the hat.

It is to be understood the hat 14 may available in several material style choices (e.g., straw and felt). As discussed in more detail below, the soft hat 14 may be replaced after wear and tear, or several hats may be obtained to be used interchangeably on top of a single helmet 12 depending, for example, upon season or style preference.

Unlike traditional hats, which are available in many sizes depending on head size, it is contemplated in one embodiment that the hats are available in a more limited number of sizes (e.g., the same number of sizes for which the helmets are available). In one embodiment, the hats are available in three (3) sizes (i.e., small or children's, medium, and large). It is to be understood that the correction for exact fit to a wearer, is achieved through the size of the helmet 12, the adjustable liner(s) 30, and the headbands or straps 32. Then, for example, as a child or other wearer grows, he/she may maintain his/her favorite hat while limiting new purchases of helmets and/or hats with each growth spurt, because the helmet allows for expansion through the adjustable liners and straps.

In one embodiment, the retention ring 16 is a semi-rigid continuous ring around a base of the upper, central portion 36 of the hat 14 in the area of a typical cosmetic hatband. The ring 16, in turn, is removably secured to the helmet 12 and the hat 14 with at least one reusable, removable retention clip 42. The illustrated embodiment includes four (4) of the clips 42. In one embodiment the retention clips 42 are plastic and may be easily removed and inserted with or without tools. In this embodiment, the retention clips 42 and/or the retention ring 16 act as a means of removably securing the hat 14 to the helmet 12.

With reference to FIG. 2, the retention ring 16′ in another embodiment optionally includes a fastener 44 (e.g., a clip of buckle) and a retention ring cover 46. For ease of understanding this embodiment of the present invention, like components are designated by like numerals with a primed (′) suffix and new components are designated by new numerals.

In this embodiment, it is contemplated that the fastener 44 on the retention ring 16′ allows the ring 16′ to open (so that it is not continuous) and re-close (so that the ring again becomes continuous). It is to be understood that whenever the retention ring 16′ is closed by the fastener 44 (and continuous), the retention ring 16′ retains a substantially fixed circumference (e.g., between about 71 cm and about 77 cm). In addition, it is contemplated the that fastener 44 is integral on the retention ring 16′. However, other embodiments in which the fastener is not integral to the retention ring are also contemplated.

When the fastener 44 is in the open position (so that the retention ring 16′ is not continuous), the retention ring cover 46 is applied over the retention ring 16′. In one embodiment, it is contemplated that the retention ring cover 46 is a tubular shape sleeve having substantially the same length as the retention ring 16′. The sleeve 46 also is sized slightly larger than the retention ring 16′ so that different sleeves may be interchangeably slid over the retention ring 16′. Once the sleeve is slid over the retention ring 16′, the retention ring fastener 44 is secured together so that the retention ring 16′ is closed and continuous.

In one embodiment, the sleeve 46 is strictly decorative and includes various styles (e.g., imitation leather with a buckle or feather, snakeskin, and numerous colors, etc).

Although the retention ring cover has been described as a sleeve that slides over a retention ring that is capable of opening and closing, with reference to FIG. 3 it is also contemplated in another embodiment that a retention ring cover 46″ be used in conjunction with a continuous retention ring 16″ (i.e., a retention ring that is not capable of opening). For ease of understanding this embodiment of the present invention, like components are designated by like numerals with a double-primed (″) suffix and new components are designated by new numerals. FIG. 3 illustrates a portion of an interior circumference 50 of the retention ring cover 46″.

More specifically, in this embodiment, the retention ring cover 46″ is a continuous tube that includes a continuous slit 52 around, for example, the interior circumference 50 of the cover 46″. The slit 52 allows the retention ring cover 46″ to be elastically opened and removably applied over the continuous retention ring 16″. Once the retention ring 16″ is completely worked into the tubular portion of the sleeve 46″ via the slit 52, the retention ring 16″ is substantially surrounded by the cover 46″.

In yet another embodiment, the retention ring cover is a C-shaped cover that is removably applied over an exterior surface of the retention ring. In this embodiment, the cover is again substantially the same length as the retention ring. In addition, the C-shape of the cover permits the top and bottom portions of the cover to elastically deform and wrap around the retention ring so that the top and bottom portions of the cover (i.e., the ends of the “C”) are on an interior circumference of the retention ring and, therefore, hidden from view.

With reference to FIGS. 1-3, it is contemplated that the retention ring cover 46, 46″ includes holes 54 that align with holes 56 in the retention ring 16, 16′, 16″ to accommodate the retention clips 42.

For example, the cover 46 (sleeve) includes four (4) sets of holes 54 (one set on the interior circumference 50 and one set on the exterior circumference) so that each of the retention clips 42 may be inserted into one of the holes 54 on an exterior circumference of the sleeve 46, pass through the retention ring 16, and then pass through another one of the holes 54 on an interior circumference 50 of the sleeve 46 before passing through the hat 14 and into the helmet 12. Therefore, in this embodiment, the retention clips 42 may be visible on the outside circumference of the sleeve 46.

In the embodiment in which the cover 46″ includes a slit 52, holes 54 on the exterior circumference of the cover 46″ may be sufficient—no holes may be necessary on the interior circumference of the cover 46″.

The embodiment discussed above in which the retention ring is always continuous and the cover is discontinuous so that it may be partially or completely around the ring, the cover may include four (4) sets of holes that operate as discussed above so that the retention clips are visible on the outside circumference of the cover. However, it also contemplated that the retention ring be secured to the hat and helmet via the retention clips before the cover is applied at least partially around the retention ring. In this embodiment, the retention ring cover hides (covers) the retention clips on the exterior circumference of the retention ring.

In addition, although the embodiments discussed above include the retention ring being secured to an exterior surface of the hat, it is to be understood that other embodiments, in which the hat is secured to the helmet without the use of a retention ring (e.g., merely by passing retention clips into the helmet through the holes of the hat), are also contemplated. In this regard, the retention ring 16 illustrated in FIG. 1 is optional.

In another embodiment, it is also contemplated that the retention ring is positioned around an interior circumference of the hat. In this embodiment, the retention clips are passed through the holes of the hat and the holes in the retention ring before being secured to the helmet. In this embodiment, the retention ring is not visible on the exterior of the hat.

With reference to FIG. 4, in yet another embodiment, it is contemplated that neither a retention ring nor retention clips is used. For convenience, components in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4 that correspond to the respective components of the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1 are given numerical references greater by one-hundred (100) relative to the corresponding components in FIG. 1. New components are designated by new numerals.

In this embodiment, hat fasteners 60 are provided around an interior circumference of the hat 114. Helmet fasteners 62, which mate with the hat fasteners 60, are provided on an exterior surface of the helmet 112. The hat 114 is then removably secured to the helmet 112 via the fasteners 60. The fasteners may include snaps, VELCRO®, etc. For example, the hat 114 may be snapped onto the helmet 112. A retention ring may also be used in another embodiment such that the hat is removably secured to the retention ring via fasteners and then the retention ring is removably secured to the helmet via additional fasteners. In either of these embodiments (whether or not a retention ring is used), the fasteners are not visible on the exterior surface of the hat. In this embodiment, the fasteners 62, 60 act as a means for removably securing the hat 114 to the helmet 112.

While the present invention has been illustrated by the description of embodiments thereof, and while the embodiments have been described in considerable detail, it is not the intention of the applicants to restrict or in any way limit the scope of the appended claims to such detail. Additional advantages and modifications will readily appear to those skilled in the art. Therefore, the invention, in its broader aspects, is not limited to the specific details, the representative apparatus, and illustrative examples shown and described. Accordingly, departures may be made from such details without departing from the spirit or scope of the applicant's general inventive concept.