Title:
PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE WITH CLOSURE ENVELOPE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Two zippered panels attached to a personal flotation device with at least one panel being attached at an offset to an edge of the personal flotation device and at least one panel being stretchable. When zipped together the two panels provide a smooth exterior surface for the personal flotation device. The stretchability of the panels allow for a close fit of the personal flotation device while maintaining freedom of movement. The offset of the panels allows for the attachment of closures to the surface of the personal flotation device within the envelope formed by the panels.



Inventors:
Oneill, Patrick F. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Hunter, John D. (Santa Cruz, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/762744
Publication Date:
12/18/2008
Filing Date:
06/13/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
B63C9/08
View Patent Images:
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20070232164TAMPER-EVIDENT LIFE VEST PACKAGEOctober, 2007Swan et al.
20080289559DISCONNECTABLE TURRET MOORING SYSTEM FOR A VESSELNovember, 2008De Baan
20020049017Dual tube float deviceApril, 2002Ross
20090325434SWIM FINDecember, 2009Mun et al.
20090217927SAFETY DEVICE, DIVING EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY METHOD FOR SCUBA DIVINGSeptember, 2009Stood et al.
20080171481INFLATABLE SWIMMING SAFETY BELTJuly, 2008Rudich
20030176123Method and device for saving people in distressin the seaSeptember, 2003Schwindt



Primary Examiner:
OLSON, LARS A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MEHLIN DEAN MATTHEWS (ALBANY, OR, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A personal flotation device with a closure envelope, said personal flotation device comprising: a first panel coupled to a first location on a surface of said personal flotation device, wherein said first location is offset from a first edge of said personal flotation device; a first zipper half coupled to an edge of said first panel; a second panel coupled to a second location on a surface of said personal flotation device; a second zipper half coupled to an edge of said second panel; and wherein said first zipper half is joinable to said second zipper half to provide an encircling enclosure for a wearer and at least one of said first and second panels is stretchable.

2. The personal flotation device of claim 1 further comprising a utility pocket.

3. The personal flotation device of claim 1 further comprising a lumbar support.

4. The personal flotation device of claim 1 wherein said second location is offset from a second edge of said personal flotation device.

5. The personal flotation device of claim 4 further comprising at least one two-part closure coupled to said personal flotation device, wherein said two-part closure is enveloped by said first and second panels when said first zipper half and said second zipper half are joined.

6. The personal flotation device of claim 5 wherein said two-part closure comprises a buckle.

7. The personal flotation device of claim 5 wherein said two-part closure comprises a snap hook and dee ring.

8. The personal flotation device of claim 5 wherein said two-part closure is coupled to said personal flotation device such that when joined, said two-part closure is disposed below the rib cage of a wearer.

9. The personal flotation device of claim 5 wherein one part of said two-part closure is coupled to said personal flotation device by said second panel.

10. The personal flotation device of claim 1 further comprising a third zipper half coupled to said first edge of said personal flotation device, and a fourth zipper half coupled to a second edge of said personal flotation device.

11. The personal flotation device of claim 10 wherein said two-part closure comprises a buckle.

12. The personal flotation device of claim 10 wherein said two-part closure comprises a snap hook and dee ring.

13. The personal flotation device of claim 10 wherein said two-part closure is coupled to said personal flotation device such that when joined, said two-part closure is disposed below the rib cage of a wearer.

14. The personal flotation device of claim 10 wherein one part of said two-part closure is coupled to said personal flotation device by said second panel.

15. An enveloping closure system for a personal flotation device, said system comprising: a first panel for attaching to a first location on a surface of said personal flotation device, wherein said first location is offset from a first edge of said personal flotation device; a first zipper half attached to an edge of said first panel; a second panel for attaching to a second location on a surface of said personal flotation device; a second zipper half attached to an edge of said second panel; and wherein said first zipper half is joinable to said second zipper half to provide an encircling enclosure for a wearer and at least one of said first and second panels is stretchable.

16. The enveloping closure system of claim 15 wherein said second location is offset from a second edge of said personal flotation device.

17. The enveloping closure system of claim 16 further comprising a third zipper half coupled to said first edge of said personal flotation device, and a fourth zipper half coupled to said second edge of said personal flotation device.

18. The enveloping closure system of claim 16 further comprising one part of a two-part closure, wherein said one part of a two-part enclosure is coupled to said personal flotation device by said second panel.

19. The personal flotation device of claim 18 wherein said two-part closure comprises a buckle.

20. The personal flotation device of claim 18 wherein said two-part closure comprises a snap hook and dee ring.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to buoyant garments for use in an aquatic environment.

2. Description of Related Art

Personal flotation devices such as a lifejacket or life vest are constructed with various types of closures. Closures with a quick and positive locking mechanism, such as a buckle or a snap hook and dee ring, are generally preferred. Zippers and buttons are not considered closures with a quick and positive locking mechanism.

Although there are a number closures that may be used with a personal flotation device that provide ease of operation and secure fastening of the personal flotation device to the wearer, the closures are typical exposed on the surface of the device and can be susceptible to snags. Exposed closures and straps can also cause abrasion to the arms of the user and are a potential safety hazard.

Due to the requirement for strength of the closures used in personal flotation devices, there is often a limited amount elasticity in the closures. Lack of elasticity in the closures reduces the ability of the personal flotation device to adapt to the movement of the wearer.

Thus, a need exists for an improved personal flotation device that provides a secure closure system and reduces the possibility for snagging of the closure. A need also exists for a closure system and method that provides increased elasticity for improved adaptability to the wearer.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides two panels that are attached at an offset to the edges of a personal flotation device and coupled by a zipper. The coupled panels provide a smooth exterior surface for the personal flotation device when donned by a wearer.

In one embodiment of the invention at least one of the panels is fabricated from a stretchable material and is attached at a distance from an edge of the personal flotation device. Both panels may be fabricated from a stretchable material.

In another embodiment one or more two-part closures are attached to adjacent surfaces of the personal flotation device. When coupled by the zipper, the two panels envelop the closures that are attached to the adjacent surfaces of the personal flotation device when the closures are joined.

In a further embodiment one or more two-part closures are attached to a surface of the personal flotation device and to one of the panels. When coupled by the zipper, the two panels envelop the closures.

In a still further embodiment one or more closures are attached to a surface the personal flotation device and the edges are coupled by a zipper. When the edge zipper and panel zipper are coupled, the closures are enveloped.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A shows a front view of a personal flotation device with zippered panels in an unzipped configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1B shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 1A with the zippered panels in a zipped configuration.

FIG. 1C shows a rear view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2A shows a front view of a front closing personal flotation device with zippered panels and interior closures in an open configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2B shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 2A in a partially closed configuration.

FIG. 2C shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 2A in a fully closed configuration.

FIG. 3A shows a front view of a side closing personal flotation device with zippered panels and interior closures in an open configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3B shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 3A in a partially closed configuration.

FIG. 3C shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 3A in a fully closed configuration.

FIG. 4A shows a front view of a front closing personal flotation device with zippered panels and interior closures and zipper in an open configuration in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4B shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A in a partially closed configuration with the interior zipper zipped.

FIG. 4C shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A in a partially closed configuration with interior zipper zipped and buckle fastened.

FIG. 4D shows a front view of the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A in a fully closed configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1A shows a fully open view 100 of an embodiment of a personal flotation device. panels 110a and 110b are attached to the front surfaces of a buoyant trunk portion 105, and zipper halves 115a and 115b are attached to panels 110a and 110b, respectively. Although panels 110a and 110 are shown as attached at on offset from the edge, in other embodiments one of the panels may be attached to an edge.

Buoyant trunk portion 105 is fabricated from materials that are capable of providing buoyancy when immersed in water. For example, a trunk portion 105 may be fabricated from a closed-cell foam core covered by a nylon fabric shell.

At least one of panels 110a and 110b, and preferably both, are fabricated from a material that is both flexible and stretchable (e.g. nylon/spandex fabric). Panels 110a and 110b are each attached at an offset from the mating edges of the trunk portion 105.

FIG. 1B shows a closed front view 101 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 1A, with panels 110a and 110b joined by the closed zipper 115 to provide an encircling enclosure for a wearer. The stretchable panels 110a and 110b provide a reduced resistance to movement that is not dependent upon the properties of the buoyant trunk portion 105. In other embodiments stretchable panels may include a portion that is not stretchable while maintaining overall stretchability.

FIG. 1C shows a rear view 102 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 1A. A utility pocket 120a is closed by a cover 120b. The cover 120b has a hole 120c that allows the pocket 120a to be used with a music player with headphones.

The trunk portion 105 has an internal pocket 125 that contains lumbar support elements 130. The lumbar support elements are flexible, yet preferably stiffer than the surrounding trunk portion 105. The lumbar support elements 130 may be stiffened by selection of a material that is intrinsically stiffer that the materials used in fabricating the trunk portion 105. Alternatively, the lumbar supports 130 may be fabricated from a material that is common to the trunk portion 105, with greater stiffness being achieved by increasing the cross-sectional thickness of the lumbar supports 130 with respect to the trunk portion 105.

FIG. 2A shows a fully open view 200 of an embodiment of a personal flotation device similar to that shown in FIG. 1A. panels 210a and 210b are attached to the front surfaces of a buoyant trunk portion 205, and zipper halves 215a and 215b are attached to panels 210a and 210b, respectively.

Buckle receivers 220b are attached by webbing 235 to the surface of the buoyant trunk portion 205 adjacent to panel 210a, and buckle inserts 220a are attached by webbing 225 to the surface of the buoyant trunk portion 205 adjacent to panel 210b. The length of webbing 235 provides a range of adjustment for the girth of the wearer.

Buckle insert 22a and buckle receiver 220b form a two-part closure that provides a quick and positive locking. Other two part closures (e.g., a snap hook and dee ring) may be used in other embodiments. The locking of the two-part closure provides an encircling closure of the wearer.

FIG. 2B shows a partially closed front view 201 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 2A, with closed buckles 220. The webbing 235 may be adjusted to provide a fit that avoids restriction over the range of motion anticipated by the wearer.

FIG. 2C shows a closed front view 202 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 2A, with panels 210a and 210b joined by the closed zipper 215. The stretchable panels 210a and 210b provide a gentle cinching that gives a closer fit than that provided by buckles alone without significant restriction of movement. The zipped panels 210a and 210b also present a smoother exterior surface that prevents the snagging of buckles.

FIG. 3A shows a fully open view 300 of an embodiment of a personal flotation device. panel 310a is attached to the front surface of a buoyant trunk portion 305, and panel 310b is attached to the rear surface. Zipper halves 315a and 315b are attached to panels 310a and 310b, respectively.

Buckle receivers 320b are attached by webbing 335 to the surface of the buoyant trunk portion 305 adjacent to panel 310a, and buckle inserts 320a are attached by webbing 325 to panel 310b. The length of webbing 335 provides a range of adjustment for the girth of the wearer.

FIG. 3B shows a partially closed front view 301 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 3A, with closed buckles 320. The webbing 335 may be adjusted to provide a fit that avoids restriction over the range of motion anticipated by the wearer.

FIG. 3C shows a closed front view 302 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 3A, with panels 310a and 310b joined by the closed zipper 315. The stretchable panels 310a and 310b provide a gentle cinching that gives a closer fit than that provided by buckles alone without significant restriction of movement. The zipped panels 310a and 310b also present a smoother exterior surface that prevents the snagging of buckles.

FIG. 4A shows a fully open view 400 of an embodiment of a personal flotation device similar to that shown in FIG. 2A. Panels 410a and 410b are attached to the front surfaces of a buoyant trunk portion 405, and zipper halves 415a and 415b are attached to panels 410a and 410b, respectively.

In contrast to the personal flotation device shown in FIG. 2A, the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A has zipper halves 440a and 440b attached to the central edges of the front surfaces of the buoyant trunk portion 405.

Buckle receiver 420b is attached by webbing 435 to the surface of the buoyant trunk portion 205 adjacent to panel 410a, and buckle insert 420a is attached by webbing 425 to the surface of the buoyant trunk portion 405 adjacent to panel 410b. The points of attachment for the webbing 435 are below the rib cage of the wearer. The length of webbing 435 provides a range of adjustment for the girth of the wearer.

FIG. 4B shows a partially closed front view 401 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 2A, with zipped zipper 440. The zipper 440 may be used to provide a close fit at the expense of reduced freedom of movement, but it is not required that it be zipped.

FIG. 4C shows a partially open front view 402 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A, with closed buckle 420. The webbing 435 may be adjusted to provide a fit that avoids restriction over the range of motion anticipated by the wearer. The closed buckle 420 provides an encircling enclosure of a wearer that is situated below the rib cage of the wearer.

FIG. 4D shows a closed front view 403 of the personal flotation device of FIG. 4A, with panels 410a and 410b joined by the closed zipper 415. The stretchable panels 410a and 410b provide a gentle cinching that gives a closer fit than that provided by buckles alone without significant restriction of movement. The zipped panels 410a and 410b also present a smoother exterior surface that prevents the snagging of buckles.

While the invention has been described in detail with reference to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be apparent to one skilled in the art that various changes can be made, and equivalents employed, without departing from the scope of the invention.