Title:
CARRYING CASE WITH BACKBONE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carrying case includes a backbone panel forming a back and base for the carrying case. A rear-top panel is connected to the backbone panel forming at least a portion of the sides and top of the carrying case. A left side and a right side panel are connected to the backbone panel forming a portion of the left side and right side of the carrying case, respectively. A mid-top panel is connected to the left side and right side panels, forming a portion of the sides and top of the carrying case. A mid-front panel is connected to the mid-top panel, the left side and right side panels, and the backbone panel, the mid-front panel forming the front of the carrying case. A first zipper is connected to the rear-top panel and the mid-top panel. The backbone panel, rear-top panel, left side and right side panels, mid-top panel, mid-front panel, and zipper form a first pocket in the carrying case.



Inventors:
Boyd, Michael (Boulder, CO, US)
Balchunas, Dennis (Boulder, CO, US)
Case, Richard N. (Boulder, CO, US)
Application Number:
12/043600
Publication Date:
06/04/2009
Filing Date:
03/06/2008
Assignee:
Nite Ize, Inc. (Boulder, CO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
112/475.08, 224/235
International Classes:
A45F5/00; A45C11/00; D05B23/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20060208025Taser holsterSeptember, 2006Grundy et al.
20080101883RAIL ATTACHMENT MOUNTMay, 2008Derecktor
20070051767Backpack organizer/dividerMarch, 2007Pfau
20060289590Theft protection backpack and money belt combinationDecember, 2006Held
20020121533Interior fitting device for a vehicleSeptember, 2002Plate
20040007604Carriage and support systemJanuary, 2004Plzak
20060108488Universal utility holsterMay, 2006Whitsel
20100089958Combination Beach Bag And Blanket Or TowelApril, 2010Flagel et al.
20090065542Spinning cross barMarch, 2009Tuttle
20030006256Equipment for holding golf outfitsJanuary, 2003Chen
20070278271Walker support tote bagDecember, 2007Koren



Primary Examiner:
LARSON, JUSTIN MATTHEW
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SQUIRE PB (DC Office) (Washington, DC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent of the United States is:

1. A carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the carrying case comprising: (a) a backbone panel, forming a back and base for said carrying case; (b) at least one panel interconnected with the backbone panel, such that an enclosure is formed by the at least one panel backbone panel combination; (c) a zipper, oriented in relation to said backbone panel and said at least one panel, such that the enclosure may be opened and closed; and (d) a stiffener, sandwiched with said backbone panel forming a stiffener-backbone panel sandwich, formed in a curved L-like shape, such that said stiffener-backbone panel sandwich retains the curved L-like shape.

2. A carrying case as in claim 1 wherein said zipper is oriented at an angle between 10-50 degrees from the vertical.

3. A carrying case as in claim 1 wherein said zipper is oriented at an angle between 15-35 degrees from the vertical.

4. A carrying case as in claim 1 wherein said zipper is oriented at an angle of approximately 25 degrees from the vertical.

5. A carrying case as in claim 1 wherein said stiffener has contours formed on its surface.

6. A carrying case as in claim 5 wherein said contours are essentially linear and parallel to an edge of said backbone panel.

7. A carrying case as in claim 6 wherein said zipper includes a puller, said puller formed by a loop and a tab.

8. A carrying case as in claim 7 wherein said tab has a flattened S-shape.

9. A carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the carrying case comprising: (a) a backbone panel, for forming a back and base for a carrying case; (b) a mid-top panel connected to said backbone panel, said mid-top panel forming said side and top of said carrying case; (c) a front panel connected to said backbone panel, said front panel forming said front of said carrying case; and (d) a zipper interconnecting said mid-top panel and said front panel, enabling said case to be unzipped into an open state and zipped into a closed state.

10. A carrying case as in claim 9, further comprising: (e) a foam piece, fitted with said backbone panel, substantially covering said area of said backbone panel.

11. A carrying case as in claim 10 wherein said foam piece is EVA foam.

12. A carrying case as in claim 9 wherein a single seam connects said backbone panel, said mid-top panel, and said front panel.

13. A carrying case as in claim 12 wherein said single seam is sewn in one step.

14. A carrying case as in claim 13 wherein said backbone panel, mid-top panel, and front panel form a pocket.

15. A carrying case as in claim 14 wherein said pocket is completely formed and enclosed when said zipper is in said closed state as a result of said sewing of said single seam and said sewing of said zipper.

16. A carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the carrying case comprising: (a) a backbone panel, forming a back and base for said carrying case; (b) a rear-top panel connected to said backbone panel, said rear-top panel forming at least a portion of said sides and top of said carrying case; (c) a left side and a right side panel, connected to said backbone panel, said left side and right side panels forming a portion of said left side and right side of said carrying case respectively; (d) a mid-top panel connected to said left side and right side panels, said mid-top panel forming a portion of said sides and top of said carrying case; (e) a mid-front panel connected to said mid-top panel, said left side and right side panels, and said backbone panel, said mid-front panel forming said front of said carrying case; (f) a first zipper, connected to said rear-top panel and said mid-top panel, wherein said backbone panel, rear-top panel, left side and right side panels, mid-top panel, mid-front panel, and zipper form a first pocket in said carrying case.

17. A carrying case as in claim 16, further comprising: (g) a foam piece, fitted with said backbone panel, substantially covering said area of said backbone panel.

18. A carrying case as in claim 17 wherein said foam piece is EVA foam.

19. A carrying case as in claim 16 wherein a single seam connects said rear-top panel, said left side and right side panels, and said mid-front panel to said backbone panel.

20. A carrying case as in claim 19 wherein said single seam is sewn in one step.

21. A carrying case as in claim 20, further comprising: (h) a low-front panel connected to said backbone panel and said left side and right side panels; (i) a front-top panel connected to said mid-top panel and low-front panel; (j) a high-front panel connected to said low-front panel; and (k) a second zipper, connected to said high-front panel and said front-top panel, wherein said low front-panel, front-top panel, high-front panel, second zipper, and mid-front panel form a second pocket.

22. A carrying case as in claim 16 wherein said rear-top panel and mid-top panel connection is at an angle to said vertical, such that said first pocket tends to rest slightly open when said first zipper is in an open position.

23. A carrying case as in claim 16, further comprising: (l) a clip attached to said backbone panel.

24. A carrying case as in claim 23, further comprising: (m) a rotator, oriented between said clip and said backbone panel, wherein said rotator enables said clip to rotate and said clip and rotator form a clip-rotator combination, wherein said clip-rotator combination has a plurality of set points at which said clip-rotator combination is set, allowing said clip to be oriented and held at a plurality of angles.

25. A carrying case as in claim 10 wherein said rotator has a plurality of dimples and wherein said clip has a plurality of protrusions, wherein said plurality of protrusions fit into said plurality of dimples, allowing said clip to be oriented and held at a plurality of angles.

26. A carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the carrying case comprising: (a) a backbone panel, for forming a back and base for a carrying case; (b) a mid-top panel connected to said backbone panel, said mid-top panel forming said side and top of said carrying case; (c) a front panel connected to said backbone panel, said front panel forming said front of said carrying case; and (d) a zipper interconnecting said mid-top panel and said front panel, enabling said case to be unzipped into an open state and zipped into a closed state.

27. A carrying case as in claim 26, further comprising: (e) a foam piece, fitted with said backbone panel, substantially covering said area of said backbone panel.

28. A carrying case as in claim 27 wherein said foam piece is EVA foam.

29. A carrying case as in claim 26 wherein a single seam connects said backbone panel, said mid-top panel, and said front panel.

30. A carrying case as in claim 29 wherein said single seam is sewn in one step.

31. A carrying case as in claim 30 wherein said backbone panel, mid-top panel, and front panel form a pocket.

32. A carrying case as in claim 31 wherein said pocket is completely formed and enclosed when said zipper is in said closed state as a result of said sewing of said single seam and said sewing of said zipper.

33. A method of fabricating a carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the method comprising: (a) continuously sewing a first seam, said first seam connecting a front panel, a mid-top panel, and a backbone panel; and (b) sewing a zipper connecting said front panel and said mid-top panel.

34. A method as in claim 33 wherein a sewing machine is used for said sewing of (a).

35. A method as in claim 34 wherein said sewing machine only needs to be set to sew said first seam once.

36. A method of fabricating a carrying case for carrying a handheld device, the method comprising: (a) sewing a first seam, said first seam connecting a body panel and a backbone panel; (b) cutting said body panel to accommodate a zipper; (c) inserting said zipper into a gap formed by said cutting; and (d) sewing said zipper into said gap.

37. A method as is claim 36 wherein said backbone panel forms at least a portion of the back and bottom of said carrying case.

38. A method as in claim 36 wherein said body panel forms at least a portion of the top, sides, and front of said carrying case.

39. A method as in claim 36 wherein (b)-(d) are performed before (a).

40. A method as in claim 36 wherein a combination of said body panel, said backbone panel, and said zipper form a pocket.

41. A method as in claim 36 wherein said gap is cut such that said gap is entirely within the perimeter of said body panel.

42. A method as in claim 36, further comprising: (e) attaching a front panel to said body panel and backbone panel.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This Application claims priority to US Provisional Application No. 60/992,005 filed on Dec. 3, 2007, the entire disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Hand-held electronic apparatus, such as GPS devices, cell phones, digital cameras, and digital binoculars, have become a ubiquitous device in modern society. The quantity and variety of hand-held electronic apparatus have increased exponentially due to practicality, cost effectiveness, and convenience of use.

Many hunters, campers, and hikers may employ a variety of hand-held electronic devices. These devices vary in durability, and even those devices that are more durable may still become scratched when unprotected. Such devices may include rangefinders, night-vision goggles, cameras, spotting scopes, GPS devices, and communication devices (including two-way radios, cell phones, and satellite phones). It may be desirable to carry such devices in carrying cases when not in use.

Carrying cases may be used in a variety of other areas as well, and users of carrying cases desire protection for the items they carry inside. Fabrication costs for carrying cases may vary with the complexity and features of carrying cases. Producers of carrying cases may desire fabrication techniques that will economize the production process, while at the same time retaining or improving the usability of the carrying case.

Carrying cases frequently are constructed to provide protection to those items carried inside. Many present carrying cases have padding; however, there may be creases in the padding where the device may be unprotected. Impact along these creases may damage the device carried inside. Furthermore, the assembly of carrying devices offering the pockets and protection can be complicated by requiring multiple fabric panels which require multiple sewing steps. Additionally, carrying cases with horizontally-oriented zippers may not remain open when unzipped. Those that remain open may open too far and items may fall out of the carrying cases. Furthermore, the zippers of such carrying cases also may be difficult to grasp, resulting in muscle fatigue.

There exists a need for a carrying case that offers seamless protection and further allows for reduced fabrication costs and time.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of a carrying case with a backbone solve many of the problems and/or overcome many of the drawbacks and disadvantages of the prior art by providing padding for the electronic device inside that is seamless, thereby preventing damage to the device. Furthermore, some embodiments provide for streamlined fabrication, requiring fewer panels and fewer sewing steps.

In particular, embodiments of the carrying case with backbone accomplish this by providing apparatus and methods for storing electronic devices utilizing a backbone panel that serves as the bottom and back of the carrying case. Since the seam surrounding the backbone panel may be sewn in one step, fabrication costs may be reduced, while fabrication speed may be increased.

One embodiment of a carrying case for carrying a handheld device includes a backbone panel, forming a back and base for the carrying case; at least one panel interconnected with the backbone panel, such that an enclosure is formed by the at least one panel backbone panel combination; a zipper, oriented in relation to the backbone panel and the at least one panel, such that the enclosure may be opened and closed; and a stiffener, sandwiched with the backbone panel forming a stiffener-backbone panel sandwich, formed in a curved L-like shape, such that the stiffener-backbone panel sandwich retains the curved L-like shape.

A feature includes that the zipper is oriented at an angle between 10-50 degrees from the vertical. A feature includes that the zipper is oriented at an angle between 15-35 degrees from the vertical. A feature includes that the zipper is oriented at an angle of approximately 25 degrees from the vertical. A feature includes that the stiffener has contours formed on its surface. A feature includes that the contours are essentially linear and parallel to an edge of the backbone panel. A feature includes that the zipper includes a puller, the puller formed by a loop and a tab. A feature includes that wherein the tab has a flattened S-shape.

Another embodiment of a carrying case includes a backbone panel forming a back and base for the carrying case. A rear-top panel is connected to the backbone panel forming at least a portion of the sides and top of the carrying case. A left side and a right side panel are connected to the backbone panel forming a portion of the left and right sides of the carrying case, respectively. A mid-top panel is connected to the left side and right side panels, forming a portion of the sides and top of the carrying case. A mid-front panel is connected to the mid-top panel, the left side and right side panels, and the backbone panel, the mid-front panel forming the front of the carrying case. A first zipper is connected to the rear-top panel and the mid-top panel. The backbone panel, rear-top panel, left side and right side panels, mid-top panel, mid-front panel, and zipper form a first pocket in the carrying case.

An additional feature may include, a foam piece (or stiffener), fitted with the backbone panel and substantially covering the area of the backbone panel. The foam piece may be EVA foam. A single seam may be used to connect the rear-top panel, the left side and right side panels, and the mid-front panel to the backbone panel. This single seam is sewn in one step.

Furthermore, the carrying case may include a second pocket. A low-front panel is connected to the backbone panel and the left side and right side panels. A front-top panel is connected to the mid-top panel and low-front panel. A high-front panel is connected to the low-front panel. A second zipper is connected to the high-front panel and the front-top panel. The low front-panel, front-top panel, high-front panel, second zipper, and mid-front panel form the second pocket.

An additional feature includes that the first zipper of the carrying case may be oriented to the rear-top panel and mid-top panel connection at an angle to the vertical, such that the first pocket tends to rest slightly open while the zipper is in an open position. The carrying case may include a clip attached to the backbone panel.

Another addition feature include that the clip may include a rotator, oriented between the clip and the backbone panel. The rotator enables the clip to rotate, and the clip and rotator form a clip-rotator combination. The clip-rotator combination has a plurality of set points at which the clip-rotator combination is set, allowing the clip to be oriented and held at a plurality of angles. The rotator has a plurality of dimples and the clip has a plurality of protrusions. The plurality of protrusions fit into the plurality of dimples, allowing the clip to be oriented and held at a plurality of angles.

An alternative embodiment of the carrying case includes a backbone panel forming a back and base for the carrying case. A mid-top panel is connected to the backbone panel and forms the side and top of the carrying case. A front panel is connected to the backbone panel forming the front of the carrying case. A zipper interconnects the mid-top panel and the front panel, enabling the case to be unzipped into an open state and zipped into a closed state. The carrying case may also include a foam piece, fitted with the backbone panel, substantially covering the area of the backbone panel. The foam piece may be EVA foam. A single seam connects the backbone panel, the mid-top panel, and the front panel. The single seam may be sewn in one step.

An embodiment of a method for forming a carrying case includes continuously sewing a first seam, the first seam connecting a front panel, a mid-top panel, and a backbone panel, and sewing a zipper connecting the front panel and the mid-top panel. The method may include using a sewing machine. The sewing machine only needs to be set to sew the first seam once.

An embodiment of a method of fabricating a carrying case for carrying a handheld device includes sewing a first seam, the first seam connecting a body panel and a backbone panel; cutting the body panel to accommodate a zipper; inserting the zipper into a gap formed by the cutting; and sewing the zipper into the gap. One feature of the method may include that the backbone panel forms at least a portion of the back and bottom of the carrying case. Another feature of the method may include that the body panel forms at least a portion of the top, sides, and front of the carrying case. Another feature of the method may include that the cutting of the panel and the inserting and sewing of the zipper are performed before the attachment to the back bone panel. Another feature of the method may include that a combination of the body panel, the backbone panel, and the zipper form a pocket. Another feature of the method may include that the gap is cut such that it is entirely within the perimeter of the body panel. Another feature of the method may include attaching a front panel to the body panel and backbone panel

Additional features, advantages, and embodiments are set forth or are apparent from consideration of the following detailed description, drawings, and claims. Moreover, it is to be understood that both the foregoing summary and the following detailed description are exemplary and intended to provide further explanation without limiting the scope claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are included to provide a further understanding of this disclosure and are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate embodiments and, together with the detailed description, serve to explain the principles of this disclosure. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of an embodiment of a carrying case according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of another embodiment of the carrying case according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is an exploded view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 6 is a rear perspective of the embodiment shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 7 is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 4;

FIG. 8 is a right side exploded view of a clip and rotator system according to the present invention; and

FIG. 9 is a left side exploded view of the clip and rotator system of FIG. 8.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, FIGS. 1-9 show embodiments of carrying pouches according to the present invention. Alternative configurations will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure.

In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 1, a carrying case 10 is composed of a number of fabric panels. Carrying case 10 and the other embodiments described herein may be produced in a variety of sizes including, but not limited to, those that are approximately the size of various devices such as GPS devices, cell phones, cameras, range finders, night vision devices, etc. that they may be designed to hold. Different views of carrying case 10 can be seen in FIG. 2, which shows an exploded view of carrying case 10, and FIG. 3, which shows a front perspective view of carrying case 10.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-3, a backbone panel 20 forms the bottom and back of carrying case 10. The backbone panel 20 may be oriented in a curved L-like shape as shown in FIGS. 1-3. A first front panel 22 and a second front panel 12 form the front of carrying case 10. A mid-panel 24 forms the sides and the top of carrying case 10. As is shown in FIG. 2, mid-panel 24 and first front panel 22 are part of the same piece of material cut for the insertion of zipper 36. A front panel 22 is connected to backbone panel 20 along a seam 30. Mid-panel 24 is connected to backbone panel 20 along seam 30. Zipper 36 serves to connect front panel 22 to mid-panel 24 and provide a system for opening and closing the carrying case 10. A bottom panel 11 serves to secure first front panel 22, second front panel 12, and mid-panel 24 together and add strength to the carrying case. Bottom panel 11 is shown as one piece of material. Alternatively, bottom panel 11 may be formed from three separate pieces of material, one on the front and one on each side of carrying case 10.

In an alternative embodiment, the number of fabric panels used to form carrying case 10 may be reduced. Bottom panel 11 may be omitted from the construction of carrying case 10, resulting in a case that is constructed from three fabric panels: backbone panel 20, a fabric panel that is a combination of first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24, and second front panel 12. In relation to this embodiment, zipper 36 may extend all the way to the base of the carrying case 10. In another alternative embodiment, first front panel 22 may be omitted (as well as bottom panel 11), and the carrying case may consist of second front panel 12 attached by zipper 36 to mid-panel 24 and backbone panel 22. In another alternative embodiment carrying case 10 is formed essentially of backbone panel 22, second front panel 22, and zipper 36. In this embodiment zipper 36 is oriented between backbone panel 22 and second front panel 22. Second front panel 22 is shaped such that it matches the shape of backbone panel 22. Multiple other embodiments exist within the scope of this disclosure that incorporate the curved L-shaped backbone panel 22 as will be understood by those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure.

EVA foam (or other stiffener) may be attached to backbone panel 20 to add durability to the case and protection to an item carried inside. In the embodiments depicted in FIGS. 1-3, Foam 34 is a single piece of EVA shaped to fit with backbone panel 20. Furthermore, as shown, the foam is sandwiched with the backbone panel 20 and it is formed to hold a curved L-like shape. The shape formed need not be precisely L-like; it may be oriented in a variety of fashions such that at least a portion of the back and bottom of carrying case 10 is formed. The one piece construction of the backbone panel 20 and foam 34 offers a more resilient structure and is seamless. Since the backbone panel 20 absorbs the force of impact to the back and bottom of the carrying case 10, the force of impact is distributed throughout the foam 34. Furthermore, there is no seam in the backbone panel 20 where there is not protection.

In the embodiment depicted in FIGS. 1-3, the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 form a substantial portion of the back and bottom of the carrying case 10. In alternative embodiments the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form as lesser portion of the bottom or back of carrying case 10 and other panels may be used to complete carrying case 10. In one embodiment the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form between a quarter to a half of the bottom portion of carrying case 10. In another embodiment the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form between a half to the whole of the bottom portion of carrying case 10. In one embodiment the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form only a portion of the back of carrying case 10. In one embodiment, the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form between a quarter to a half of the back of carrying case 10. In another embodiment, the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 may form from a half to all of the back of carrying case 10. As shown in FIG. 2, the sandwich formed by foam 34 and backbone panel 20 forms substantially all of the bottom and back of carrying case 10.

In relation to this and other embodiments, multiple connectors may be used for attaching panels to each other including, but not limited, to sewing, riveting, gluing, stapling, and other connection techniques that will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure. In reference to many of the embodiments, attachment will be described in terms of sewing; however, any of the other techniques may be used.

During the assembling of carrying case 10, seam 30 may be sewn or otherwise joined in one step due to its unique orientation with first front panel 22, second front panel 12, and mid-panel 24. This may reduce manufacturing costs and make assembly faster and simpler. As stated above, first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24 may be sections of a single piece of fabric. During fabrication, a single piece of fabric may be sewn to backbone panel 20 and then cut to accommodate zipper 36, resulting in the formation of first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24. As will be understood by those skilled in the art, the possibility of assembling a product with fewer steps may save time and money. A variety of alternative fabrication techniques will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure.

The panels of carrying case 10 can be formed such that they may be cut from a single piece of fabric, with little waste. First front panel 22 and mid-panel 24 may be cut from a single piece of fabric. The cut may be the same seam where the first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24 connect zipper 36. An additional methodology may include cutting the body panel into first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24, then sewing in zipper 36, and then sewing the combination to backbone panel 20 along 30 in one step. Furthermore, a single body panel may be first sewn to backbone panel 20 and then cut into first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24 and zipper 36 may be inserted. Furthermore, the single body panel may not be cut all the way through so that first front panel 22 and mid-panel 24 are still part of the same piece of material when sewn to backbone panel 20. This configuration may add strength to the zipper seam of carrying case 10, since the fabric is still one piece away from the point that the zipper is connected. Numerous configurations and fabrication techniques are available.

Carrying case 10 may be fitted with a variety of carrying/attachment mechanisms. As shown in FIG. 1, carrying case 10 has a clip 40 attached to backbone panel 20. Clip 40 may be utilized to attach the carrying case 10 to a belt or other strap (not shown). Alternatively, a variety of different carrying/attachment mechanisms may be used including, but not limited to, straps, Velcro, snaps, etc. Clip 40 may be a standard clip or may be a more advanced clip, such as the clip described in FIGS. 8 and 9.

In another embodiment shown in FIGS. 4-8, a backbone panel 52 forms the back and bottom portion of a carrying case 50. Backbone panel 52 is a fabric panel composed of woven nylon; however, it may be composed of a variety of other materials including, but not limited to, fabrics and other textile material (both of natural origin and synthetic), rubber, flexible plastics, and other materials that will be appropriate as known to those skilled in the art. As can be seen in FIG. 5, which shows an exploded view of the carrying case 50, foam 54 is fitted to backbone panel 52 to provide rigidity and padding for carrying case 50. In this embodiment, foam 54 is EVA foam; however, other padding material may be used including, but not limited to, a variety of rubbers, plastics, foams, and traditional padding, such as cotton, wool, etc. It will be clear to those skilled in the art, in light of this disclosure, that a variety of materials may be used to provide padding and rigidity. Furthermore, foam 54 may be contoured as shown in FIG. 6 to improve impact resistance and rigidity. The contoured nature of foam 54 may increase the time during which the carrying case 50 receives an impact while the contours depress, therefore, decreasing the impact (through the reduction of impulse force).

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4-7, a rear-top panel 56, mid-top panel 58, front panel 72, and side panels 62, 64, in combination with backbone panel 52, form a first pocket 65 in carrying case 50. Rear-top panel 56 and mid-top panel 58 are connected at a zipper 57. As shown in FIG. 5, rear-top panel 56 and mid-top panel 58 may be part of the same piece of fabric. Alternatively, they may be separate pieces of fabric. As can be seen in FIG. 4, zipper 57 is not oriented in a completely vertical position. The slight angular orientation of zipper 57 tends to position rear-top panel 56 and mid-top panel 58 in a slightly open position when zipper 57 is completely opened. In one embodiment this angle ranges from zero to sixty degrees from the vertical. Alternatively, the angle may be in the range of 15-35 degrees. As shown in FIG. 7, the angle from the vertical is approximately 25 degrees. This slightly open position allows for easy access to first pocket 65. Alternative zipper orientations may include those that are completely vertical; however, first pocket 65 may not tend to stay open in such a zipper orientation.

In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 4-7, rear-top panel 56 is attached to backbone panel 52 along a seam 66. As is shown in FIG. 5, rear-top panel 56 and mid-top panel 58 may be part of the same piece of material and may be cut to accommodate zipper 57. As will become clear from this disclosure, many of the seams of the carrying case 50 are oriented to reduce attaching steps. Seam 66, which joins backbone panel 52, rear-top panel 56, side panels 62, 64, and low-front panel 68, may be sewn in a single step, which may reduce the assembly time and costs of carrying case 50. This is because the bottom and the rear can be sewn in a single step. At the same time, backbone panel 52 does not over-simplify carrying case 50 and still allows for unique multiple pocket designs.

A low-front panel 68, a high-front panel 70, and a front-top panel 72 form a second pocket 75. A zipper 74, oriented between high-front panel 70 and front-top panel 72, serves to open and close second pocket 75. Low-front panel 68 may be part of a single piece of fabric consisting of side panels 62, 64 and low-front panel 68. Furthermore, front-top panel 72 may be part of a single piece of material with mid-top panel 58. Use of a single piece of material sewn in a fashion to appear to be multiple panels may save time, material, and fabrication costs. Other panel configurations are conceived within the scope of this disclosure.

Additionally, numerous optional features may be included as part of the invention. As shown in FIG. 4, the carrying case 50 includes a clip 77 for attaching to a belt or other strap. Clip 77 may be attached by rivets to backbone panel 52 and foam 54. Numerous types of clips may be utilized, including the rotator-clip combination described below. Baffles 80, 81 may be attached between top-rear panel 56 and mid-top panel 58 and function to hold first pocket 56 from opening too far. Baffles 80, 81 may be formed of an elastic material such as spandex or other elasticized cloth. The insides of pockets 56, 75 may be fitted with anti-scratch fabric 82. As shown in the embodiment depicted in FIG. 5, interior elastic pockets 84, 86 are fitted within first pocket 56. A strap 88 may be attached to the top of carrying case 50 and forms an upside-down U-shape allowing carrying case 50 to be hung therefrom. Optionally, shoulder strap attachment points 89, 90 allow for a shoulder strap to be attached to carrying case 50.

In one alternative, Zippers 57, 74 have a waterproof seal. Zippers 57, 74 may be fitted with easy-pull pullers composed of a looped rope piece 94 and an ergonomically-shaped tab 95. Tab 95 is shaped like a flattened S and is approximately an inch in length across its longest dimension, a quarter of an inch wide, and ⅛ of an inch thick. The bend in tab 95 the surface of tab 95 to vary by approximately and ⅛ of an inch, such that outer surface 96 on part of tab 95 is depressed by approximately ⅛ of an inch in respect to inner surface 97. The opposite side when flipped is oriented in the opposite configuration such that the outer surface is higher than the inner surface. As shown in FIG. 6, ergonomically-shaped tab 95 allows for a thumb and forefinger to grip the tab in a fashion that allows for increased contact of the thumb and forefinger due to the curved nature of tab 95. Furthermore, ergonomically-shaped tab 95 aligns the thumb and forefinger on opposite sides of a plane of minimal thickness, thereby minimizing gripping fatigue. Additionally, the curved nature of ergonomically-shaped tab 95 causes a user's fingers to push against the upward slope of the tab as a user pulls away his hand, making gripping and continuing to grip the ergonomically-shaped tab 95 even easier. Furthermore, in one alternative the tab has a rough grip surface, which increases the friction between the tab 95 and the user's fingers.

Starting from the right in FIG. 7 and the left in FIG. 8, clip 120 preferably comprises an integrally formed resilient member that bends back on itself to form a first side 121 and a second side 122 that enclose a loop area 117 through which a belt 180, pants waist band, or other clothing or support member can pass to attach the carrying case 200 to a person or other object. First side 121 has a clip opening 119 and a catch 123 which nearly closes or closes loop area 117. End 124 curls back to nearly close or close opening 119. Lever tab 125 provides leverage to assist in bending clip 120 to enlarge opening 119 so that clip 120 can more easily be attached or removed to a belt or other object. A pair of prongs 126 and a pair of rounded protrusions 129 extend from first side 121 of clip 120. Each of prongs 126 includes a head 127 and a stem 128. Rotator 130 comprises a body member 133, which is preferably a circular plate, and attachment arms 131 and 132. Holes 135 and 136 pass through arms 131 and 132, respectively. Body 133 has an opening 139 for receiving prongs 126. Snap tabs 137 are formed in opening 139. When prongs 126 are pushed through opening 139, tabs 137 snap behind the head 127 of prongs 126 into the groove formed by the fact that a partial cylinder formed by stems 128 has a smaller radius than the partial cylinder formed by the heads 127. Circular plate 133 has dimples 138 formed in it. Preferably, dimples 138 are equally spaced about the circle of the plate and, in the embodiment shown, there are eight dimples. Protrusions 129 on clip back 122 fit into dimples 138 in rotator 130 to form a detent system.

The detent system formed by the protrusions 129 on clip 120 and the dimples on rotator 130 allow the carrying case 200 to be held in any of eight different positions. Thus, when the clip 120 is, for example, held in place, the holster can be rotated to any one of eight positions and will remain there. This allows for upright mounting on either a vertical, horizontal, or angled belt or connection point.

Embodiments of the present invention may have numerous fabrication advantages. During the fabrication process, seam 30 in FIGS. 1-3 may be sewn in a single step. Seam 66 in FIGS. 4-7 may also be sewn in a single step. This allows for faster fabrication and cost and materials saving. Since certain changes may be made in the above systems and methods without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all subject matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings may be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.

A feature includes that the foam may have various contours as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. FIG. 2 shows one possible arrangement of the contours 42, 43. As shown, contours 42, 43 are arranged such that they do not intersect the attachment point for clip 40. This configuration is utilized since if contour 42 extended farther, clip 40 would not fit flush to the backbone panel 20 and foam 34. If the contours are extended to where clip 40 attaches then the attachment of the clip may be rendered more flexible and less rigid. This arrangement of contours 42, 43 allows for more rigid case positioning. This may allow a user more certainty in the position of a case and therefore reduce errors in the insertion of an item into carrying case 10. Contours 42 are shown as having a wavy formation. Contours 42 are generally oriented to dissipate forces along the length of foam 34 (the longest dimension). The wavy nature of contours 42 also causes the contours 42 to distribute forces across the width of foam 34. Furthermore, the contours 42, 43 add rigidity to the case without adding excess bulk. An alternative configuration for contours is shown in FIG. 5. Contours 91, 92 are linear in form and run the length of case 50. A variety of contour arrangements will be apparent to those skilled in the art in light of this disclosure.

Another feature includes that insides of pockets 56, 75 may be fitted with anti-scratch fabric 82. Since items inserted into pockets 56, 75 may optical or electronic devices, it may be desirable to prevent scratching of lenses or displays. Such anti-scratch fabric may be included in all embodiments of the present invention. Anti-scratch fabrics include, but are not limited to, microfiber cloths made of polyester/polyamide and other fabrics having fibers that approach or are smaller than 1 micron.

While specific embodiments have been described in detail in the foregoing detailed description and illustrated in the accompanying drawings, it will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and alternatives to those details could be developed in light of the overall teachings of the disclosure and the broad inventive concepts thereof. It is understood, therefore, that the scope of this disclosure is not limited to the particular examples and implementations disclosed herein, but is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope thereof as defined by the appended claims and any and all equivalents thereof.