Title:
Webbing Fastener
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A webbing fastener (10) has a hook element (12) formed from a woven webbing strap (14) having a proximal end (16) and a distal end (18) that has a hook-like pad (20) formed thereon, and, an aperture element (22) that may be formed by a ‘square ring’ (24) attached by a loop (26) to a second strip of webbing (28). The pad (20) can be formed by coiling the distal end (18) of webbing strap (14) into a flat tight coil and sewing it transversely to form a pair of transverse seams (30) that divide the pad (20) into a proximal end portion (a) and a distal end portion (b). The proximal end portion (a) forms a barb-like hook that can be move away from the distal portion of the webbing strap (14) to engage the proximal periphery of the ring (24) and to retain the hook element (12) within the aperture element (22).



Inventors:
Maley, Ian James (Western Australia, AU)
Application Number:
11/913556
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
10/07/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
24/265A
International Classes:
A44B11/18; A43C11/02; A44B11/02; A45C13/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BRITTAIN, JAMES R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JOHN ALEXANDER GALBREATH (REISTERSTOWN, MD, US)
Claims:
1. A hook element for a webbing fastener, the hook element being adapted to engage with an aperture element that has a slot-like opening, characterized in that: the hook element is formed on a first side of a distal end of an elongate webbing strap by multiple folded or coiled layers of webbing at said distal end that form a substantially rectangular first pad on said first side, said pad having distal and proximal end portions and the webbing strap having a second side opposite said first side, a first transverse seam of stitches secures the layers of the pad together and secures the pad to the distal end of the webbing strap, said first seam being located intermediate between the distal and proximal end portions of the pad so that the proximal end portion of the pad is separable from the distal portion of the webbing strap to thereby form a hook-like barb capable of engaging the periphery of the slot-like opening once having been entered into said opening.

2. A hook element for a webbing fastener according to claim 1 wherein: at least one additional transverse seam of stitches is formed across the pad distally of said first seam so as to compress the distal end portion of the pad to facilitate its entry into the slot-like opening of the aperture element and so as to stiffen the distal end portion of the pad to inhibit said distal end portion being bent and pulled back through the opening after the proximal end portion of the pad has been inserted and engaged thereby and after tension is applied between the hook element and the aperture element.

3. A hook element according to claim 1 wherein: the distal end of the webbing strap extends distally beyond the pad to form a flap that can be folded over the pad after the pad has been inserted into the opening of the aperture element so that removal of the pad from the opening is facilitated by pulling on the flap.

4. A hook element according to claim 1 wherein: a second pad is formed on the second side of the webbing strap in like manner to said first pad so that both first and second pads can be passed through the opening of the aperture element and each pad can engage a respective portion of the aperture element to retain the hook element within the aperture element.

5. A webbing fastener assembly comprising a hook element and an aperture element that has a slot-like opening which is adapted to receive and releasably retain the hook element in a secure manner, the assembly being characterized in that: the hook element is formed on a first side of a distal end of an elongate webbing strap by multiple folded or coiled layers of webbing at said distal end that form a substantially rectangular first pad on said first side, the pad having distal and proximal end portions and the webbing having a second side opposite said first side, a first transverse seam of stitches secures the layers of the pad together and secures the pad to the distal end of the webbing strap, said first seam being located intermediate between the distal and proximal end portions of the pad so that the proximal end portion of the pad is separable from the distal portion of the webbing strap to thereby form a hook-like barb capable of engaging and being retained by the slot-like opening once having been entered therein.

6. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein: at least one additional transverse seam of stitches is formed across the pad distally of said first seam so as to compress the distal end portion of the pad to facilitate its entry into the slot-like opening of the aperture element and so as to stiffen the distal end portion of the pad to inhibit said distal end portion being bent and pulled back through the opening after the proximal end portion of the pad has been inserted and engaged thereby and after tension is applied between the hook element and the aperture element.

7. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein: the opening of the aperture element has an elongate proximal periphery and an opposing distal periphery, said peripheries at least in part defining said opening, said proximal periphery of the aperture element is adapted for location between said hook-like barb and the distal end of the webbing strap after the first pad has been passed through the opening, and said distal periphery of the aperture element is adapted to form a stop or abutment to inhibit rotation of the pad with respect to the aperture element when tension is applied to between the hook element and the aperture element.

8. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein the aperture element comprises an elongate anchor ring having an elongate proximal periphery and an opposing distal periphery, said peripheries at least in part defining said opening, said proximal periphery of the aperture element is adapted for location between said hook-like barb and the distal end of the webbing strap after the first pad has been passed through the opening, and said distal periphery of the aperture element is adapted to form a stop or abutment to inhibit rotation of the pad with respect to the aperture element when tension is applied to between the hook element and the aperture element.

9. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein: the distal end of the webbing strap extends distally beyond the first pad to form a flap, such that said flap can be entered into the opening of the aperture element in a proximal direction and engaged by the aperture element to fold between the proximal portion of the first pad and the webbing strap when the first pad is entered into the opening and pulled proximally and such, when it is desired to uncouple the hook element and the aperture element, the flap can be pulled back distally over aperture element to effect the disengagement and withdrawal of the hook element from the aperture element.

10. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein: a second pad is formed on the second side of the webbing strap of the hook element in like manner to said first pad so that both first and second pads can be passed through the opening of the aperture element and each pad can engage a respective portion of the aperture element to retain the hook element within the aperture element.

11. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 10 wherein the aperture element includes first and second openings so that said first and second pads can be separately entered into the respective first and second openings to thereby retain the hook element within the aperture element.

12. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 5 wherein: the slot-like opening of the aperture element has opposing first and second sides, a second pad is formed on the second side of the webbing element substantially opposite said first pad, and the first and second pads can be entered together or separately through the slot-aperture and said first and second pads can respectively engage said opposing first and second sides of the opening to thereby retain the hook element within the aperture element.

13. (canceled)

14. A hook element according to claim 2 wherein: the distal end of the webbing strap extends distally beyond the pad to form a flap that can be folded over the pad after the pad has been inserted into the opening of the aperture element so that removal of the pad from the opening is facilitated by pulling on the flap.

15. A hook element according to claim 14 wherein: a second pad is formed on the second side of the webbing strap in like manner to said first pad so that both first and second pads can be passed through the opening of the aperture element and each pad can engage a respective portion of the aperture element to retain the hook element within the aperture element.

16. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 6 wherein: the opening of the aperture element has an elongate proximal periphery and an opposing distal periphery, said peripheries at least in part defining said opening, said proximal periphery of the aperture element is adapted for location between said hook-like barb and the distal end of the webbing strap after the first pad has been passed through the opening, and said distal periphery of the aperture element is adapted to form a stop or abutment to inhibit rotation of the pad with respect to the aperture element when tension is applied to between the hook element and the aperture element.

18. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 17 wherein: the distal end of the webbing strap extends distally beyond the first pad to form a flap, such that said flap can be entered into the opening of the aperture element in a proximal direction and engaged by the aperture element to fold between the proximal portion of the first pad and the webbing strap when the first pad is entered into the opening and pulled proximally and such, when it is desired to uncouple the hook element and the aperture element, the flap can be pulled back distally over aperture element to effect the disengagement and withdrawal of the hook element from the aperture element.

19. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 18 wherein: a second pad is formed on the second side of the webbing strap of the hook element in like manner to said first pad so that both first and second pads can be passed through the opening of the aperture element and each pad can engage a respective portion of the aperture element to retain the hook element within the aperture element.

20. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 19 wherein the aperture element includes first and second openings so that said first and second pads can be separately entered into the respective first and second openings to thereby retain the hook element within the aperture element.

157. A webbing fastener assembly according to claim 16 wherein the aperture element comprises an elongate anchor ring having an elongate proximal periphery and an opposing distal periphery, said peripheries at least in part defining said opening, said proximal periphery of the aperture element is adapted for location between said hook-like barb and the distal end of the webbing strap after the first pad has been passed through the opening, and said distal periphery of the aperture element is adapted to form a stop or abutment to inhibit rotation of the pad with respect to the aperture element when tension is applied to between the hook element and the aperture element.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This invention relates to webbing fasteners and anchors and elements thereof. It is applicable to the anchoring of webbing straps to ‘square rings’ and elongate slots in fittings and fixtures. It is particularly suited for use with backpacks, sacks, luggage and the like (herein referred to as ‘packs’) where webbing straps are attached to anchor rings sewn into the packs and/or the packs incorporate frames that have slots for the attachment of webbing straps. The invention is also applicable to the fastening of two webbing straps together.

In this specification, ‘webbing’ generally refers to an elongate flexible band, strip or tape of woven textile material intended for use where lightweight, high tensile strength, softness and flexibility is desired. However, the term ‘webbing strap’ will be used to emphasize the elongate nature of the webbing. Of particular interest here are the straps used for carrying packs or for securing accessories such as helmets and kneepads to people, as well as straps for attaching loads to packs, belts, clothing and gear used by hikers, hunters, armed service personnel, rescue and paramilitary personnel. Straps of this nature are also widely used in the transport industry. They vary greatly in size and type. ‘Square ring’ is a convenient term that is commonly used to refer to a ring or slotted plate of generally rectangular shape with an elongate slot-like hole therein. Such rings are commonly used to anchor webbing straps.

BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION

Webbing straps used with packs are commonly anchored to square rings sewn into the packs, or to slots formed on or in the frame of the pack, by passing one end of the webbing strap through the ring or slot, folding it back on itself and permanently securing the end to the body of the strap by sewing, riveting or the like to form a loop. The other end of the strap is usually left free for attachment to adjustable buckles, clips and the like—or for simply tying. This means that the webbing strap must be fixed to the anchor ring or slot and cut to length at the time the pack is manufactured. If it is too long for the ultimate customer, it can be readily shortened by cutting off portion of the free end, although some unnecessary waste thereby results. If it is too short, the fixed end must be cut free from the anchor ring or slot and a new length of webbing sewn or otherwise fixed in place. Similarly, if the webbing should become worn or damaged during use, or if a longer piece is required, the old webbing must be cut off the ring or frame and the new piece sewn into place. This generally requires the services of a tent maker or cobbler and is awkward and expensive. The alternative of attaching the new webbing to the anchor ring by a hook or buckle involves unnecessary weight and equipment and often requires permanent attachment of the strap to the hook or buckle. It is also costly and adds the danger of the hook or buckle rubbing through the pack. These problems are common to many of the uses of webbing straps, particularly when used to attach helmets, elbowpads or kneepads.

The present invention involves forming an integral hook-like tab on the anchor end (herein referred to as the distal end) of a webbing strap in such a way that it can be securely but removably retained by an anchor ring or slot. This avoids the need to non-removably fix the webbing strap to the pack at the time of manufacture and allows it to be replaced by the user without the need for sewing or riveting, or the use of additional clips and buckles. Where the square ring or a slotted plate is attached to a second webbing strap, the invention provides a webbing fastener for joining two webbing straps.

Tab-and-slot fasteners are well known, the archetypical form being the button and button-hole which has been used for centuries. U.S. Pat. No. 4,315,508 to Bolick (assigned to Kimberly-Clark Corp) discloses the use of straps fitted with buttons that enter slots suitable for use in diapers and incontinent pads. This patent and its citations provide a useful review of this art. Similarly, hook and eye fasteners are also well known, having been in use for centuries. Recent U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,432,098 and 6,251,097 to Kline et al (assigned to Proctor & Gamble Co.) together with their citations provide useful reviews of both tab and slot fasteners and hook and eye fasteners as applied to disposable diapers and the like. While many of such prior art fasteners can be used to anchor webbing straps used in backpacks and the like, they frequently lack the necessary strength. Moreover such fasteners rely upon the attachment of separate hooks, tabs or catches by riveting, adhesives or stitching and, because of that, not only require the purchase and stocking of such components but also often require special assembly jigs.

OUTLINE OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a simple and effective hook element for a webbing fastener as well as a webbing fastener comprising that hook element and an aperture element, whether the aperture element is formed by a square ring or by a slot in a fixture such as a backpack frame, load pallet or the like.

From one aspect, the invention comprises a hook element for a webbing fastener comprising multiple folded or coiled layers of webbing forming a substantially rectangular first pad on a first side of the distal end of a webbing strap, the pad having distal and proximal end portions. A first transverse seam of stitches secures the layers of the pad together and secures the pad to the webbing strap, the seam being located intermediate of the end portions of the pad so that (i) the proximal end portion can be separated from the first side of the webbing to form a hook-like barb capable of engaging the proximal periphery of the slot-like opening after the distal end portion of the pad has been passed through the opening, and (ii), upon tension being applied to the webbing strap, the distal end portion of the pad rotates to abut against the distal periphery of the opening to prevent the pad from being pulled back through the opening.

The use of at least one transverse seam of stitches to form the hook like pad allows great strength to be imparted to the hook element through the choice of the thread or filament used; for example, continuous filament Kevlar or polyester of appropriate gauge. This is vastly superior to the use of adhesives or heat-bonding.

From another aspect, the invention comprises a webbing fastener formed by the combination of the hook and aperture elements indicated above.

It is desirable that the hook-like pad have at least three layers of webbing with four or more being feasible and it is desirable that the pad should be a fairly tight fit in the aperture. Indeed, sloppiness between the pad and the opening of the aperture element in either dimension is undesirable, particularly in thickness. These characteristics minimize the possibility of the pad being folded back double and pulled back through the opening under strong webbing tension. However, it will be appreciated that the number of layers will depend upon the stiffness of the webbing and the design loading. Pull-through of the pad can also be countered by having at least one additional transverse seam of stitches formed across the pad distally of the first seam so as to compress and stiffen the distal portion of the pad to inhibit it being bent back against the periphery of the opening under load. The compression of the pad provided by the additional seam(s) also facilitates entry of the pad distal-end-first into the opening of the square ring, aperture plate or slotted fixture.

Webbing elements of the type disclosed can be made very strong, lightweight and compact. Indeed, in some tests, the square rings and length-adjusting plastic webbing buckles have broken first. They are free of metal or molded plastic parts which can rub and wear adjacent portions of packs or the like. They are very cheap to make, they tighten under tension but can be undone by reversing the insertion procedure (once tension is completely removed) to permit replacement webbing straps at home or in the field without the need for any fixing tools or equipment.

Usually, the pad forming the hook-like barb will be made by folding or coiling the the webbing on itself because that is simplest and easiest. However, the pad can be formed by folding or coiling a separate piece of webbing and attaching it to the webbing to be anchored. It will also be usual to form the pad on the distal extremity of the webbing to be anchored so that no excess webbing extends beyond the pad. However, it is envisaged that two or more spaced pads can be formed on or near the distal end of the webbing to provide multiple anchor points.

Furthermore, there is advantage in some circumstances in allowing the distal extremity of the webbing to extend beyond the pad to form an extraction flap. Such a flap, when folded back through the aperture (after the pad has been passed therethrough) can then be used to facilitate the quick release of the anchor by simply pulling on the flap after tension on the webbing has been relieved. For example a flap of webbing may be formed on the proximal end of the pad so as to extend proximally from the pad, the flap being arranged to abut or engage the periphery of the aperture when the pad is inserted therein. Thus, when the webbing is pulled away from the aperture after engagement, the flap will be caught between the proximal portion of the pad and the periphery of the aperture, leaving portion of the flap extending proximally. This portion of the flap is desirably sufficiently long in its proximal extension that, after the pad is inserted into the aperture, it can be grasped and pulled to facilitate the withdrawal of the pad from the aperture (when all tension on the webbing is released).

If desired, a second pad of similar form to the first pad may be formed opposite the first pad on the distal end of the webbing so that the proximal portions of the pads engage opposite sides of the aperture when they are inserted into the aperture and a pulling force is applied to the webbing. While this would allow the pads to engage a hole in a fixture, the double-pad arrangement allows two square rings to be simultaneously engaged, one with each pad, provided one ring is wider than the other so that it can enter within the other to enable the rings to cross when engaged. A flap of the type indicated may be provided on both of the pads to facilitate their withdrawal from the aperture.

Where a pad is formed on each side of the webbing, they may be secured by separate or common seams. The aperture element of such a fastener may then comprise a slot in a fixture (as previously indicated) such that each pad engages an opposite side of the slot. Alternatively, each pad may be engaged by separate square rings formed on the ends of separate webbing straps or attached as a pair to the end of one webbing strap. Of course, the square ring[s] can be attached direct to a fixture, rather than to a strap and rather than forming a slot in the fixture.

The aperture normally forms the second element of the anchor or fastener and may comprise either a square ring or a slot formed in a ‘fixture’ such as a backpack frame or a transportable rigid container. Square rings are commonly attached to the ends of short webbing straps or loops sewn into packs etc at strategic locations. However, some packs will be mounted on or include moulded plastic or fabricated metal frames that include elongate slots or wire loops adapted to take the anchor pads of the present invention. This further simplifies the construction and fittings of such framed packs.

As noted at the outset, the invention also includes packs having at least one length of webbing with at least one anchor pad formed in the manner indicated above.

DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLES

Having portrayed the nature of the present invention, particular examples of the application of the principles thereof will now be described with reference to the accompanying drawings. However, those skilled in the art will appreciate that many variations and modifications can be made to the example without departing from the scope of the invention as outlined above. In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the components of a webbing anchor-type fastener that comprises the first example, the fastener being uncoupled.

FIGS. 2A-2D are longitudinal sectional elevations of the fastener of FIG. 1 shown in successive stages of coupling.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the components of a second type of webbing anchor fastener that comprises the second example, the fastener being uncoupled.

FIGS. 4A and 4B are longitudinal sectional elevations of the fastener of FIG. 3 shown in successive stages of coupling, while FIG. 4C is a similar view of the fastener of FIG. 3 during de-coupling.

FIG. 5A is a sectional elevation of part of a molded backpack frame having integral slots that form portion of the webbing anchor fasteners of the third example, the webbing component of the fastener also being shown as it is about to enter one of the slots.

FIG. 5B is a similar view to that of FIG. 5A but where the webbing component is fully engaged with the slot in the backpack frame.

FIG. 6 is a longitudinal sectional elevation of a webbing-to-webbing fastener having a pad on each side of a webbing strip coupled with a pair of crossed rings.

FIG. 6A is a perspective view of the fastener of FIG. 6.

FIG. 7 is a perspective of another example of a webbing anchor fastener similar to that of FIGS. 1 and 2 except that two alternative anchor points or pads are provided.

The first example is a webbing fastener or anchor 10 illustrated in FIG. 1 and FIGS. 2A-2D having a hook-like element 12 comprising a first strip of woven webbing strap 14 having a proximal end 16 and a distal end 18 that has a hook-like pad 20 formed thereon; and a second element 22 containing an aperture or slot formed, in this case, by a square metal or plastic ring 24 that is attached by a loop 26 to one end of a second strip of woven webbing 28. Normally, proximal end 16 of webbing strap 14 carries a buckle (not shown) by which it can be attached to another length of webbing in a length-adjusting manner. The webbing 28 of element 22 is normally short and sewn into the seam of a back pack (not shown), kneepad or the like to provide an anchor point. Indeed, webbing 28 will normally be a simple loop that has both ends sewn into the backpack, rather than a single thickness strap, as shown in FIG. 1.

In this example, pad 20 is simply formed by coiling the distal end 18 of webbing strap 14 into a flat tight coil and sewing it transversely to form a pair of transverse seams 30. In this example, as shown, seams 30 pass through five layers of webbing and pad 20 is integral with the distal end of webbing 14. Seams 30 divide pad 20 into a proximal end portion a and a distal end portion b. Because of the number of layers and folds involved, portion b is somewhat stiffer than a. This is desirable. Indeed, it is often preferable to further stiffen portion b by an additional transverse seam located distally of seams 30, as indicated by broken line 32. [Of course, if a seam is formed at line 32, it would pass right through all five layers of pad 20, just like seams 30.]

It is desirable that square ring 24 is a little wider than the width of webbing straps 14 and 28 so that (i) there is a little lateral play between the sides of pad 20 and ends 34 of ring 24 and (ii) second webbing strap 28 can lie flat (as shown). Of course, the depth c of ring 24 should be a little greater than the thickness d of pad 20 so that the pad can be readily passed through ring 28, but there should be a minimum of clearance consistent with the need to pass pad 20 through ring 24 by hand without the need for special tools.

The manner in which elements 12 and 22 of fastener 10 are coupled together is illustrated in the stages of FIGS. 2A to 2D (shown in side elevation), in which the depth c of ring 24 is exaggerated for the sake of clarity. First, ring 24 is turned at right angles to webbing 28 and distal end portion b is entered into ring 24, and/or ring 24 is moved over portion b, as indicated by arrows 40 and 42 respectively. This movement is continued, bringing portion b and seams 30 through ring 24 as shown in FIG. 2B and further continued until proximal end portion a has completely passed through ring 24. Whereupon, ring 24 is swung downwards and back into line with webbing 28 and the two parts of the fastener are pulled slightly away from one another—as also indicated by arrows 44 in FIG. 2C. This enters the proximal part of ring 24 firmly between proximal part a of pad 20 and webbing strap 14, pressing proximal portion a of pad 20 downward against the proximal portion of ring 24 as indicated by arrow 46 in FIG. 2C. Thus, pad 20 forms a hook that engages ring 24.

When coupled fastener 10 is put under further tension by pulling outwardly on webbing strips 16 and 28, as shown by arrows 44 in FIG. 2D, the tension on webbing 14 tends to pull distal portion b of pad 20 back through ring 24 as indicated by arrow 46. This presses the distal end portion b of pad 20 against the distal portion of ring 24 and tends to bend distal portion b into ring 24 bringing distal portion b into forceful contact with the distal portion of ring 24 as indicated by arrow 48 in FIG. 2D. A number of factors contribute to prevent distal portion b of pad 20 being folded in half and pulled through ring 24. First, the five layers of pad 24 make it so stiff that it is most difficult to bend it double; second, even if pad 20 were bent double, its thickness would be at least twice d and be unable to fit through ring 24; third, the leverage on distal portion b is small in comparison to the tension applied to strap 14, being at best the ratio of the diameter of proximal portion of ring 24 to the depth c of ring 24. As already mentioned, the stiffness of distal portion b of pad 20 can be greatly increased by one or more additional seam at line 32 (FIG. 1), if desired. We have found that fasteners of this type can be easily made to be as strong as the webbing itself. This is in sharp contrast to the conventional plastic snap fasteners used to adjust the effective length of webbing straps.

The second example will now be described with respect to FIG. 3 and FIGS. 4A to 4D. FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an anchor fastener 100 that forms the second example and FIGS. 4A to 4D show stages in the coupling and uncoupling of fastener 100.

As before, fastener 100 comprises a hook-like element 102 comprising a hook-like pad 104 formed near the distal end 105 of a first webbing strap 106 and an aperture element 108 having a square ring 110 secured to a second webbing strap 112. While, as before, pad 104 is integral with strap 106 being formed by folding the distal end of the strap 106, the strap is folded in a zig-zag pattern to form pad 104 rather than being coiled. This allows a different form of pad to be made.

More particularly, as best seen in FIG. 3, pad 104 comprises six layers of webbing material folded in zig-zag pattern on one side of strap 106 and secured together by three spaced stitched seams 114, 115 and 116 that run transversely of webbing strap 106. This forms a stiff and compact pad. However, the folds of webbing strap 106 are not of the same length, the first fold 118 being shorter than the second 120 (that is, fold 118 does not extend so far in the proximal direction as fold 120). Furthermore, the distal extremity 105 of strap 106 is extended in the proximal direction to form a flap 122 that extends proximally of pad 104 and second fold 120 by a substantial distance. The proximal end of flap 122 is folded over and sewn to form a flattened loop or hem 124 to aid gripping by the fingers of a user. An upstanding fold 126 is formed in flap 122 intermediate of hem 124 and second fold 120 so as to project outward or away from strap 106. Finally, flap 122 is secured to second fold 120 by a stitched seam 128.

As previously noted, FIGS. 4A to 4D illustrate successive stages in the coupling and decoupling of the two elements of fastener 100 and it will be seen that, once again, the width of ring 110 has been exaggerated for the sake of clarity. The first stage, shown in FIG. 4A, is similar to that shown in FIG. 2A of the first example. Ring 110 is arranged at right angles to second web 112 so that the entry of the distal end of pad 104 is facilitated. The movement of pad 104 through ring 110 is continued until ring 110 passes over intermediate loop 126 of flap 122, as shown in FIG. 4B. Tension may then be applied to the fastener 100 by pulling on first and second straps 106 and 112 in opposite directions. This draws ring 110 distally, folding flap 122 around its proximal portion until the movement of ring 110 is stopped by first fold 118 of pad 104, and/or by proximal pad seam 114. This position is shown in FIG. 4C. To uncouple fastener 100, the tension on its parts is relaxed and flap 122 is gripped by its hem 124 in one hand while second webbing strap 112 is held with the other hand. Tension on hem 124 and flap 122 pulls ring 110 out of pad 104 and guides it over outer fold 120 so that it slips easily off pad 122. FIG. 4D illustrates the first stage of this uncoupling process.

The third example of a webbing fastener formed in accordance with the present invention is an anchor fastener 200 shown in FIGS. 5A and 5B and relates to the attachment of a hook-like fastener element formed by webbing strap 202 to a molded plastic pack frame 204 shown in section and diagrammatically. Frame 204 has a load carrying portion 206 and an integral side edge or flange 208 that has a plurality of slots 210 formed therein for the attachment of multiple webbing straps 202. In this example, a pad 212 is formed on the distal end of strap 202 by coiling and securing with sewn seams 214, as described in the first example. In this case, however, pad 212 only has four layers. Again pad 212 forms a hook-like attachment to distal end of webbing strap 202 and is a snug fit in slot 210.

FIG. 5A shows the distal end portion 216 of hook-like fastener element 202 about to enter slot 210 as the first step of securing the anchor fastener 200. FIG. 5B shows pad 212 after it has passed through slot 210 and been turned through about 90 degrees so that distal end portion 216 faces downwards. This completes securement of fastener 200. It will be seen that tension on strap 202, in the direction indicated by arrow 218 in FIG. 5B, presses distal portion 216 against the inside of frame flange 208 and tends to fold pad 212 on itself. Removal of pad through slot 210 is virtually impossible because (i) pad 212 is too stiff to fold upon itself and (ii) even if it did, it would be too thick to pass through slot 210. However, if desired, pad 212 can easily be made stiffer by giving it extra layers and/or extra transverse seams (eg, as in the first example).

Again, it is surprising that such a simple and cheap fastener can exhibit such high strength.

The fourth example of the application of the principles of the present invention is a fastener 300 illustrated in sectional elevation in FIG. 6 and in perspective in FIG. 6A, fastener 300 being in its coupled state. Fastener 300 is used for joining two webbing straps or fastener elements 302 and 304. In this case, however, two hook-like pads 306 and 308 are formed by folding webbing 302 so that one pad is formed on each side thereof; and two aperture elements formed by square rings 310 and 312 are attached to webbing 304 by separate loops 314 and 316. Though it is not essential, pads 306 and 308 are both formed by folding the distal ends of webbing strap 303 and loops 314 and 316 are also formed by folding the proximal end of strap 304, pads 306 and 308 being held in place by at least one common seam 31 8 and loops 314 and 316 being attached to web 304 by two seams 320.

It will be seen that pad 306 and ring 312 act in essentially the same manner as the ‘single-sided’ fastener 10 of the first example, as does pad 308 and ring 310. Little further explanation of the operation of fastener 300 is therefore needed, except to point out that assembly of ‘double-sided’ fastener 300 is a little more complicated. To ensure smooth assembly, it is important that the width of one ring—say ring 310—should be greater than that of the other—say ring 312—so that ring 312 will easily pass through ring 310. It is also important to note that the length of loops 314 and 316 should be sufficient to allow rings 310 and 312 to pass over the proximal ends of pads 306 and 308 more or less simultaneously.

Thus to assemble fastener 300, ring 312 is fitted within ring 310 and the two rings are arranged substantially at right angles to webbing 304 so that pads 308 and 308 and pass through both rings. Ring 312 is then swung inwards to abut one side of webbing 302 and to engage pad 306 and ring 310 is then swung inwards to abut the other side of webbing 302 and to engage pad 308. Tension can then be applied to webbings 302 and 304 to close the fastener, as illustrated in FIG. 6.

It will be appreciated that it may be more convenient to form webbings 302 and 304 in double thickness. This would allow pad 306 to be formed on the distal end of one layer of webbing 302 and pad 308 to be formed on the distal ends of the other layer. Similarly, loop 310 could be formed on the proximal end of one layer of webbing 304 and loop 312 could be formed on the proximal end of the other layer of webbing 304. This would have the advantage of conferring greater strength to the fastener because, as already noted, the webbing is generally the first element of the fasteners of the invention to fail.

The fifth example is shown in FIG. 7 and is an anchor webbing fastener 400 which is similar to that of FIGS. 1 and 2 except that two alternative anchor points are provided by the provision of two hook like pads 402 and 404 on a common webbing strap (hook-like fastener element) 406, either of which can be used to engage a square ring (aperture element) 408 that is attached to an anchor webbing strap 410. Pad 402 is formed by folding webbing 406 (in a similar manner to pad 104 of the second example) at an intermediate point along its length, while end pad 404 is formed by coiling as in pad 20 of the first example. As shown in FIG. 7, end pad 404 has been passed right through ring 408 to allow pad 402 to be engaged with it.

Though a number of examples of webbing fasteners have been described, it will be appreciated that many variations and additions to the chosen examples are possible, and that many other examples could be devised, without departing from the scope of the invention as outlined above.