Title:
CLIMBING SKINS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Stiff cambered, profiled, flat plates are bonded to a snow adhering surface of a ski base. The plates are coupled to the ski base via straps, snaps or other securing devices to eliminate the need for glue.



Inventors:
Gyr, Kaj (Nelson, CA)
Application Number:
12/027205
Publication Date:
08/07/2008
Filing Date:
02/06/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C7/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
AVERY, BRIDGET D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVID P. COOPER (Portland, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A climbing skin for use with a ski that has a ski base, comprising: plural flexible plates bonded to a snow adhering surface; and plural snaps associated with the plates, and usable to cinch the plates to the ski base, thereby eliminating the need for glue.

2. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein the snaps are adjustable for width in order to fit different sized skis.

3. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein the plates include a plurality of profiles in X, Y, and Z axes.

4. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein straps replace the snaps for cinching the plates/battens to the ski base.

5. The climbing skin of claim 4, further including clips which wrap around the edges of the ski adjacent to the skis' edges.

6. The climbing skin of claim 5, wherein said clips are adjustable for ski width.

7. The climbing skin of claim 1, further including a glide zone along a plurality of portions of the snow adhering surface

8. The climbing skin of claim 1, further including a plurality of profiles at the lateral edges of said plates.

9. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein said plates/battens have a trim able snow adhering surface adjoining them.

10. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein the edges of said plates/battens may be easily trimmed for width.

11. The climbing skin of claim 1, further including folds comprised of a mechanical hinge.

12. The climbing skin of claim 1, further including tip and tail retainers in various combinations and methods germane to the art.

13. The climbing skin of claim 1, further including variable thicknesses in a plurality of portions of said plates/battens.

14. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein said plates are arced concavely in relation to the ski base.

15. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein said plates are arced convexly in relation to the ski base.

16. The climbing skin of claim 1, wherein filler material is placed around said plates in any axis and in various thicknesses.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/899,926, filed Feb. 6, 2007 and entitled “Climbing Skins”, the disclosure of which is herein incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

Climbing skins have been around for centuries. They were originally made from the skin of Seals, which was strapped to the bottom of skis to provide adhesion to the snow when climbing. Mohair was adapted for this snow adhering surface, and as the years went by various synthetic piles (short hairs) were employed. The basic dynamic of the pile portion is to provide grip when climbing and glide when moving forward.

Synthetic pile and mohair have improved with time, and it is well acknowledged to be the best overall surface for snow adhesion—better than other means, mechanical or otherwise. The primary problem with skins is not their pile or snow adhering surface, but rather the means with which they are attached. Several decades ago skiers grew tired of some of the problems associated with strap-on skins, notably snow accumulation, lateral squirm, and poor edge control (due to the straps covering the edges). Thus the era of the glued-on skin was born. With glued skins, a glue layer adheres the skin to the ski, and clips on the tips and tails retain the skin on either end. In the best of conditions glued skins work well, but they have their own attendant problems: glue failure (due to moisture, temperature extremes, or dirt), difficulty in peeling the skins apart (they are stored with the glue surfaces adhered to each other), difficulty in applying the skins, periodic need for re-gluing, and excess glue adhering to the base of the ski once the skin is removed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows the skin loosely attached to the ski at the tip and tail.

FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of the cambered plates of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 shows an elevational view of the skin attached to the ski via straps located at the center of the cambered plates.

FIG. 4 shows an exploded view of the cambered plates cinched against the ski via straps.

FIG. 5 shows a plan view of the skin removed from a ski.

FIG. 6 shows a bottom view of the skin strapped to a ski.

FIG. 7 shows an elevational view of a folded skin.

FIG. 8 shows a plan view of the skin with a glide zone toward the tip.

FIG. 9 shows a cross-sectional view of the straps and clips.

FIG. 10 shows a cross-sectional view of thicker cambered plates with a mitered edge.

FIG. 11 shows an alternative embodiment with reverse camber plates and extra straps.

FIG. 12 shows a cross-sectional view of a skin with battens, snaps, and an adjustment zone.

FIG. 13 shows an elevational view of a ski with three sets of battens and three snaps.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Representative embodiments of the present inventive concept are shown in FIGS. 1-13, wherein similar features share the common reference numerals listed below:

    • 21 Cambered Plate
    • 22 Skin
    • 23 Tip Retainer
    • 24 Tail Retainer
    • 25 Strap
    • 26 Center Fold
    • 27 Plate Boundary
    • 28 Glide Zone
    • 29 Filler
    • 30 Reverse Camber Plate
    • 31 Clip
    • 32 Buckle
    • 33 Snap
    • 34 Batten
    • 35 Adjustment zone

One feature of the present invention is the use of flexible cambered plates, or battens. As used herein, the term “plates” also means “battens”. The plates are attached or bonded to the skins (snow adhering surface) and cinched up against the ski base via straps or snaps, which ensures that the skin stays tight against the ski bottom, limiting the possibility of snow accumulation while enhancing ease of skin application. The plates may be made from various plastics, composites, fiberglass, aluminum, or any material that has a relatively high spring modulus, such that when they're strapped or snapped to a ski they resist being pulled away from the ski. Many plastics and composites are capable of this in thicknesses of 1/16″ or less. The plates are bonded to the skin, attached via adhesive, co molded, or attached via fasteners germane to the art. The forward plate(s) may be attached to the skin at any point aft of the upturned tip, but preferably it is attached as far back as it can be without creating looseness of the skin or a large gap. A filler material of closed cell foam or other similar material may fill any void between the skin and ski base. The camber of each plate should be such that, depending on the spring modulus of the chosen material, it clasps the ski very tightly when the straps or snaps are fastened. Flat non-cambered plates work, but they must have a higher spring modulus (i.e., be thicker) than a cambered plate of the same material. In effect the cambered plates act as leaf springs, offering relatively equal distribution of pressure along their length when tightened against the ski. More than two cambered plates are possible (as in FIG. 13), depending on the skin/ski length and need for compactness when folded. Each plate or batten requires at least one strap or snap for retention to the ski, preferably located at or near the peak of camber (center of the plate) depending on how the plate is shaped. The plate may have a concentric arc, or be asymmetric—these shapes then dictate how the plate flexes, and thus influence placement of the straps. Depending on the type of material used, each plate can be very lightweight—around 1 oz. or less.

FIGS. 1 and 2 show two cambered plates or sets of battens bonded to a snow adhesive layer. They are hanging, without straps attached to the ski. This is what the present inventive concept would look like with just the tip and tail retainers on. Once the straps or snaps are attached, the plate's camber is flattened against the ski, as in FIGS. 3 and 4. Since the center fold is comprised of two plates abutting each other at right angles while being held tightly to the ski via the straps or snaps, lateral movement of the plates is constrained, making for very little lateral or vertical movement—two problems skins of the prior art had.

FIG. 5 shows a plan view of the present inventive concept without a ski. The tip and tail retainers, center fold, straps, and plate margins are apparent. FIG. 6 shows a bottom view of the skin attached to a ski with straps wrapped around the top (unseen) side.

FIG. 7 shows an elevational view of the inventive concept folded in the middle. The center fold is visible, with plates abutting each other and bonded to the skin, allowing the skin to fold easily at this point in a “living hinge” manner. The cambered plates are tapered at each end and filler is visible filling up the angled spaces at the plate boundaries. The filler material may be comprised of any resilient lightweight material, such as neoprene, closed cell foam, or anything that “fills the gap”. It may be bonded or otherwise attached to the plates in lateral, vertical, and/or longitudinal axes.

FIG. 8 shows another option; a glide zone. The glide zone is an area of slippery material that allows the ski tip to float on top of the snow and glide forward with greater ease. The prior art skins all have the pile going right up around the tip, and usually it's wrapped around the tip retainer to allow for adjustment of length. Thus the leading portion of the skin creates drag, making the ski tip plunge deeper, while giving more resistance. Since the first quarter of a skin provides very little grip (due to relative lack of weight placed on this area, especially on steeper grades) a portion of this leading area should be slippery instead of providing grip. Thus a preferred embodiment would include a glide zone made of thin plastic or other slippery material which is bonded to the skin, or entirely replaces the pile material, attaching at or near the tip retainer such that it provides the right amount of glide, while not inhibiting the skin's grip. Since such a material would be much thinner than pile wrapped around (or otherwise bonded to) the tip retainer (as with skins of the prior art), this embodiment limits snow accumulation and drag around the ski tip—a common occurrence with all skins of the prior art. The glide zone material may have an adhesive backing or other means of adhesion so that when folded back on itself after going through the tip retainer (or loop-like piece) it is thin but fully adjustable for length. This is a big advantage over skins of the prior art.

FIG. 9 shows a cross section of a ski with the present inventive concept attached via clips and straps. The clip is bonded or attached to the cambered plate at its lateral margins such that it interfaces with the ski edge, wrapping around the edges roughly perpendicular to them. It is then attached to a strap on top of the ski, which is fastened with a buckle or means germane to the art. The clip may be attached to the cambered plate such that it is adjustable for width, thereby accommodating various widths of skis. Velcro and other means between each set of clips is possible as long as it is thin. The clip is made from an alloy or other robust material, and it is preferably quite thin, so that it doesn't inhibit the “bite” the edges exert on the snow. The straps may be germane to the art with integrated buckles, or anything that allows for quick tightening and release. Straps with no clips or clips without straps are an option too. In lieu of clips flexible stainless steel filament/wire or thin stainless steel banding may be used (as it conforms to the edges and automatically adjusts to different width skis) or simply straps which wrap around the edges.

FIG. 10 shows a cambered plate with greater thickness, mitered/profiled edges, snaps, and regular skin pile adjacent to the miter/profile, extending to the ski edge. Since a portion of the plate is raised from the base the effective area of pressure is narrower than the base, thus (depending on snow conditions) this design provides more pressure per square inch, while increasing actual surface area of the skin. This ushers in the possibility of fitting to a wider range of ski widths. The cambered plates could be offered in a given width, and the plate-less portion of skin could be trimmed to fit the base in a method germane to the art. The plates of this embodiment may be offered in various widths (e.g., 10 mm increments), all of which are little narrower than the ski onto which they will be attached. A snow adhering layer (the standard skin surface) then extends towards the edges, and is trim-able for width. Since the cambered plate is mitered (or contoured in any of the three axes) there is more skin in contact with the slope when traversing steep slopes. The skins of the prior art have very little skin in contact with the snow on a steep traverse, and that often leads to extreme slipping. This embodiment may further include filler placed around the plate in any of the three axes—this filler providing thickness or contour(s) to the snow adhering layer. For instance, the plate may be of the same dimensions and profiles of the aforementioned embodiments, further including a thickness of mitered filler between the snow adhering surface and the plates. The converse may happen too; wherein the filler or foam is placed between the plate and the ski, with the snow adhering layer being bonded directly to the plate. Any combination of the two is possible to achieve desired thicknesses and profiles.

FIG. 11 shows a skin with reverse camber plates, detached from a ski. If this design is employed additional straps are necessary, for instead of retaining the plates in the middle it's essential to retain them on both ends due to the camber of the plates. As mentioned previously, non-cambered plates may also be employed, as long as they are adequately stiff for holding the skin to the ski base.

FIG. 12 shows a cross sectional view of a skin with battens, snaps, and an adjustment zone. The battens are essentially narrower and slimmer versions of the plates, and may be placed at various points lateral of the longitudinal center, as shown in FIG. 12, where they are against the edge of the skin, and connected to the snaps. The snaps are formed stainless steel, plastic, or other flexible and thin material. Ideally they need to snap tightly to the top portion of the edges, which means that either the snap itself bends, or the portion that is contiguous with the skin and battens/plates is resilient and stretches. Either way, the snap should be shaped to facilitate this, with a distal portion which flares laterally. This allows the snap to slip around the edge of the ski, while easing disengagement of the snap from the edges with the pull of a finger or traction on the skin itself. The adjustment zone is where the clips or snaps can be adjusted closer or further away from each other in order to fit different width skis. A variety of methods may be employed: hook and pile (Velcro), rivets, sliders—anything that allows for adjustable tensioning between the clips/snaps. Alternatively, the skins may be cut and sized to given dimensions at the factory, thereby eliminating the need for width adjustment. The snaps may slide freely below (on the snow side) the battens or be connected to them in any manner which allows for adjustment of width. The battens/plates may have minor indentations in them in order to ensure that the snaps don't slide longitudinally when scraped from the side.

In order to allow for adjustment of the skin to different width skis, the skins may be offered with the battens/plates placed at width increments of 10 mm or so, allowing the skier to trim the skin material to the edges of his ski without having to cut the battens themselves. Alternatively, the battens may be moveable then re-attached to the skin at the desired width. Yet another alternative is to make the battens out of a material which can be easily cut, so it doesn't matter where they're placed.

FIG. 13 shows an elevational view of a ski with three sets of battens and three snaps. The battens are not flattened against the ski via the snaps (in order to better illustrate their shape). When snapped to the ski edge, the camber conforms to the base. This drawing shows a space between the battens where there is just skin and no batten. Such a space allows the skin to fold. When three sets of battens are used the center set can be slightly longer than the end sets in order to facilitate easy folding, otherwise the battens may interfere with each other.

Being that the glide zone may also serve as a means for adjusting the length of the skin the tail retainer may be either fixed or adjustable. It is not necessary to make it stretchy, however, as the battens/plates limit stretching during use and the ski itself provides enough “spring” for the tail retainer to function in an over-center manner.

Accordingly, it can be seen that the skins of the present inventive concept usher in a whole new realm of possibilities for performance and ease of use heretofore unseen in any skins of the prior art. Although the description above contains many specifics, these should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, but as merely providing illustrations of some of the preferred embodiments of the present inventive concept. Various other embodiments and ramifications are possible within its scope.

For instance, various other profiles or shapes may be used for the cambered plates and adjoining skin material. As in shown I FIGS. 9-10 the plates may have various profiles and thicknesses in all axes. The folds may be comprised of an actual mechanical hinge, or a “living hinge” made up of the adjoining material or skin. A plurality of plates may be employed, even one long plate that is bonded to the skin and rolls up with it instead of folding. Depending on the type of material used for the plates, the plates themselves may be trimmed for width with scissors or more aggressive cutting means. Anything that allows the plate to, when strapped to the ski, retain its profile such that there is no room between the plate and the ski base, thereby eliminating accumulation of snow, is possible. The plates/battens may also be formed or molded in a unitary fashion wherein there is a plurality of connections between them (laterally). The present inventive concept may also be used for snowboards or any other human-propelled snow articles. It's simply a matter of altering the dimensions of the snow adhering layer and plates.

In the preceding description, various aspects of claimed subject matter have been described. For purposes of explanation, specific numbers, systems and/or configurations were set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the claimed subject matter. However, it should be apparent to one skilled in the art having the benefit of this disclosure that claimed subject matter may be practiced without the specific details. In other instances, features that would be understood by one of ordinary skill were omitted and/or simplified so as not to obscure claimed subject matter. While certain features have been illustrated and/or described herein, many modifications, substitutions, changes and/or equivalents will now occur to those skilled in the art. It is, therefore, to be understood that the appended claims are intended to cover all such modifications and/or changes as fall within the true spirit of claimed subject matter.