Title:
Pole Straps Spreader Device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A spreader device that attaches to the straps of a ski pole or similar pole holding the straps apart so that it is easy for a user to grasp or release the grip of the pole. It is constructed of rubber, plastic, or metal with resilient, spring-like characteristics. The device has two removable parts that may be used together or alone, and will fit the straps of most poles. It is very simple in design and inexpensive to manufacture, so it can be made available at a very affordable price.



Inventors:
Hoggan, Daniel Hunter (Providence, UT, US)
Application Number:
12/139694
Publication Date:
12/17/2009
Filing Date:
06/16/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C11/22
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
PHAN, HAU VAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel H. Hoggan (Providence, UT, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A device for spreading the two straps of a ski pole or similar type pole wherein said device attaches directly to said straps and has openings of predetermined shape and size whereby it can be easily slipped on to said straps for installation and when attached does not interfere with the adjustment of the loop between said straps.

2. A spreader device of claim 1 wherein said openings are of predetermined shape and size to fit a wide range of straps produced by different manufacturers.

3. A spreader device of claim 1 comprising two parts, one designated as the upper spreader wherein said upper spreader attaches to the upper end of said straps near the top of the ski pole and the other part designated as the lower spreader attaches to the lower end of said straps where they are fastened together by a buckle.

4. The spreader device of claim 3 comprising only one of said two parts designated as the upper spreader, whereby it functions alone to spread said straps.

5. The spreader device of claim 3 comprising only one of said two parts designated as the lower spreader, whereby it functions alone to spread said straps.

6. The spreader device of claim 3 wherein said upper and lower spreaders are made of plastic, rubber, or metal which has resilient spring-like characteristics, whereby said spreaders can flex when the ski pole is grasped and return to their original shape when said pole is released.

7. The spreader device of claim 3 wherein said upper and lower spreaders may be stamped from sheet material or in the case of plastic may be injection molded, whereby producing a useful product in large numbers that can be offered at a low price.

8. The spreader device of claim 3 wherein said upper spreader has the general shape of a flat plate, said plate having two pairs of slots of predetermined shape and location whereby one of said straps without a buckle can be easily slipped through and securely held within one pair of said slots, and whereby the other one of said straps with a buckle can be easily slipped through and securely held within the other pair of said slots, whereby causing said straps to be spread apart.

9. The spreader device of claim 8 wherein said pair of slots for holding the strap without a buckle is located at one end of said plate, oriented at an angle of about 45 degrees with the longitudinal axis of said plate, and the other pair of said slots for holding the strap with a buckle is located at the other end of said plate, oriented at an opposite angle of about 45 degree with the longitudinal axis.

10. The spreader device of claim 8 wherein said upper spreader may have the general shape of a curved plate in lieu of a flat plate, whereby having a more streamlined appearance.

11. The spreader device of claim 3 wherein said lower spreader has the general shape of a flat plate, said plate having two parallel slots of predetermined size and shape on one end whereby one of said straps without a buckle can be easily slipped through and securely held within said slots, and said plate also having an oversized notch of predetermined size and shape on the opposing end whereby the buckle on the other one of said straps can pass through said notch without restraint when the loop in the buckled straps is cinched up or loosened.

12. The spreader device of claim 11 wherein the pair of slots for holding said strap without a buckle is located on one end of said plate and oriented at an angle of about 90 degrees with the longitudinal axis of the said plate, and the notch for passing said buckle on the other strap is located on the opposite end of said plate and oriented an angle of about 90 degrees with the longitudinal axis of said plate.

13. The spreader device of claim 11 wherein said flat plate of the lower spreader has an indention in one of its edges that rests next to the grip of the ski pole, said indentation being concave in shape and of predetermined size and shape, whereby said grip will be cradled within said indentation providing a streamlined appearance.

14. A method of attaching a ski pole straps spreader comprising two parts wherein one of said parts which is attached to said straps near the top of the pole and designated as the upper spreader is installed first, and the other of said parts which is attached to said straps where they are buckled together and designated as the lower spreader is installed next, whereby said spreaders so installed cause said straps to be spread.

15. The method of claim 14 wherein the upper spreader is installed by passing one of said straps without a buckle down through an inside slot and up through an outside slot in one end of said upper spreader, then allowing the strap to hang down vertically to be in position to be inserted in said lower spreader.

16. The method of claim 14 wherein the upper spreader is installed by passing one of said straps with a buckle down through an inside slot and up through an outside slot in one end of said upper spreader then allowing said strap to hang free to subsequently be buckled to the end of the other strap.

17. The method of claim 14 wherein after the upper spreader is in place near the top of the pole, the lower spreader is installed by passing one of said straps without a buckle down around an outside edge and threaded up through the outside slot and down through the inside slot of said lower spreader, then passing the other one of said straps with a buckle down through a notch in the opposite edge and buckling the two straps together.

18. The method of claim 14 wherein only the upper spreader is attached to said straps near the top of said pole, whereby it acts alone to spread said straps.

19. The method of claim 14 wherein only the lower spreader is attached to said straps where they are buckled together, whereby it acts alone to spread said straps.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of provisional patent application, No. 60946720, filed: Jun. 28, 2007 by the present inventor.

STATEMENT OF FEDERALLY SPONSORED DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO A SEQUENCE LISTING

Not Applicable

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

This invention relates to sports and exercise equipment, specifically to spreaders applied to straps on ski poles used for snow skiing and to straps on similar poles.

2. Prior Art

In the current state of the art the two straps attached to the top of a ski pole when fastened together with a buckle serve to attach the pole to the hand and wrist of a skier. The purpose of the straps is to provide a secure connection between the hand of the skier and the pole and also to prevent separation of the pole from the skier in a fall or other situation that may result in the inadvertent release of the pole. A pole separated from a skier while skiing may result in loss of the pole in deep snow, and in some cases a loose pole may become a safety hazard to the skier or to others.

When a ski pole is not in use, the two straps tend to hang side by side from the top of the pole with little or no space between them. To grasp the pole and get ready to ski, the skier must first open up a loop between the buckled straps through which he or she can insert a hand. This generally takes both hands of the skier—one to hold the loop open enough so that the other hand can be inserted through the loop to grasp the grip of the pole. This tends to be somewhat awkward and time consuming especially with heavy ski gloves or mittens. Releasing the hand from within the loop also requires two hands and is somewhat awkward.

A spreader for ski pole straps is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,386,588 to Young, et al (2002). The disclosed spreader is part of an elaborate ski pole grip and strap system that has a spreader attached to the top of a pole's grip in a slot with a pin. This spreader requires a ski pole with a specially designed and manufactured grip and strap attachment. It would not fit any other ski pole, so has very limited application. Two other patents, U.S. Pat. No. 3,923,317 to Penny (1975) and U.S. Pat. No. 4,082,303 to Finnegan (1978) disclose straps with openings for grasping the grip of a ski pole, but both of these require specially designed and manufactured straps that would not fit on other poles. One of the primary advantages of the spreader device applied for in this patent application over the prior art is that it has essentially universal application and will fit on the straps of almost all ski poles. U.S. Pat. No. 6,385,819 B1 to Ingold (2002) is for a device that attaches to the two straps of a ski pole at a position over the top of the buckle that holds the two straps together. A disadvantage of this device is that it has a permanent connection and interferes with the function of the buckle in adjusting the size of the loop between the straps. Some skiers like to adjust the fit of the loop each time they use a ski pole, and this device would be a nuisance for them. Another advantage of the device applied for in this patent application is that it does not restrict the function of the buckle in adjusting the size of the loop in the straps.

The device disclosed herein provides an open loop large enough to easily insert or remove the gloved hand of a user without help of the other hand, and does not adversely affect the function of the straps. Once the hand is in place within the loop and the user grasps the pole, the spreader device flexes slightly and conforms to the shape of the gloved hand. Although this device is described for use with ski poles, it could be used with any type of pole that has straps for securing the pole to a hand. Examples of other such poles are those used for walking and snow shoeing.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This device consists of two parts, an upper spreader and a lower spreader, that are attached to the straps of a ski pole. The two parts are flat in shape, approximately 1¼″ wide×2½′ long× 1/16″ thick. The upper spreader has four slots, and the lower spreader has two slots and a notch for holding the straps and causing them to separate and open a loop between them when the straps are buckled together. The two spreaders may be used together on the same pair of straps or they may be used alone, each one independently providing a significant loop opening. The open loop makes it easier for a user to insert his or her hand between the straps and grasp the grip of the pole. It also makes it easier to remove the hand from within the straps.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of a ski pole showing the straps in open position with the upper and lower spreaders in place.

FIG. 2 is a front view of the upper spreader showing the location of two smaller slots on one end and two larger slots on the other end.

FIG. 3 is a side view of one embodiment of the upper spreader showing it to be essentially a flat plate with slots.

FIG. 4 is a side view of an alternative embodiment of the upper spreader in which the spreader is essentially a curved plate with slots.

FIG. 5 is a top view of the lower spreader showing the location of two slots at one end and a notch at the other end.

The reference numbers are assigned as follows:

6 Upper spreader

7 Lower spreader

8 Inside small slot in 6

9 Outside small slot in 6

10 Ski pole strap without a buckle

11 Inside large slot in 6

12 Outside large slot in 6

13 Ski pole strap with a buckle

14 Buckle

15 Outside small slot in 7

16 Inside small slot in 7

17 Notch in 7

18 Top of ski pole

19 Outside edge of 7

20 Ski pole grip

21 Opening between straps 10 and 13

22 Indentation in 7 that forms a cradle for grip

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

This spreader device consists of two parts, each made from a flat piece of rubber, metal, or plastic in a rectangular shape approximately 1¼ in. wide×2½ in. long× 1/16 in. thick, with openings to fit the straps and buckle of a ski pole in a particular manner as will subsequently be explained. The two parts are shown attached to a ski pole in FIG. 1. The two parts are shown by themselves in FIGS. 2-5.

One of the parts designated as the upper spreader 6 is a flat plate with two small parallel slots 8 and 9, each approximately ⅛ in.×1 in. in size, located on one end and positioned at an angle of about 45 degrees with the longitudinal axis. See FIG. 2. The slots are rectangular in shape and each sized to hold strap 10. Two larger parallel slots 11 and 12 are located similarly on the other end of the plate have openings slightly larger than the first two just described. These two are each large enough to pass the buckle 14 on the end of ski strap 13 and are also positioned at an angle of about 45 degrees with the longitudinal axis, but oriented in an opposite angle from the other two slots.

The second part of the device, designated as the lower spreader 7, is a flat plate with two small parallel slots 15 and 16 for holding strap 10 on one end, each at an angle of 90 degrees with the longitudinal axis. See FIG. 5. On the other end, the plate has a single notch 17 in the outside edge large enough to pass strap 13 with buckle 14.

The unique way the parts are installed and the way they functions are described with reference to FIG. 1. The upper spreader 6 is installed first. The strap without a buckle 10 is passed down through the inside slot 8 and threaded up through outside slot 9. The strap 10 is then allowed to hang down vertically to be in position to be inserted into the lower spreader 7. Next, the other strap 13 with a buckle 14 is passed down through inside slot 11 and threaded up through outside slot 12 of the upper spreader 6. This strap with a buckle is then allowed to hang down vertically to be in position to be passed through the notch 17 in lower spreader 7 for subsequent attachment to the end of strap 10. While the free ends of the two straps 10 and 13 are held securely, the upper spreader 6 is pushed up to the upper end of the straps next to the top of the ski pole grip 18.

The lower spreader 7 is installed next. The strap without a buckle 10 is passed down around the outside edge 19 of the lower spreader 7 and threaded up through the outside slot 15 and down through inside slot 16. The strap 13 with buckle 14 is then passed down through the notch 17, and fastened to the other strap 10 underneath the lower spreader 7. With the lower spreader 7 in this position near the bottom of the grip 20, and with the upper spreader 6 in position near the top of the grip, they function together to hold straps 10 and 13 apart and form an opening 21. These spreaders 6 and 7 together provide an ample opening 21 for insertion of a gloved hand with little or no assistance from the skier's other hand. The design of the lower spreader 7 with an oversized notch 17 allows the buckle 14 to move through the notch without restraint. In other words, the loop between straps 10 and 13 can be cinched up or loosened so as to make the opening 21 smaller or larger. And, when adjustments in the size of opening 21 are made, the buckle 14 on strap 13 is free to move through notch 17, and may end up below, within, or above the notch. Although the use of both spreaders, upper 6 and lower 7, provide for a maximum opening 21, either one of the spreaders may be used alone, providing a significant and useful degree of opening. The indentation 22 on the edge of the lower spreader 7 rests next to the grip of the pole 20 when the spreader is in place and provides a cradle for the grip.

The spreaders may be constructed of plastic, rubber, or metal with spring-like characteristics. They may be stamped from sheet material, or in the case of plastic may also be injection molded, thus making them very inexpensive to manufacture. The material must have slight flexibility so that the spreaders can conform to the shape of the hand as force is exerted on the straps in the performance of skiing. This is necessary so that the device will be comfortable and not interfere with the normal function of the ski straps. The material must also be resilient so that the parts will return to their flat shape after the hand is released from the pole.

The device has predetermined openings of size and shape to fit a wide range of straps produced by different manufacturers. The approximate dimensions of the overall device and the dimensions of the slots and notch that are described have been used successfully in prototypes, but are not the only ones that can be used. Other dimensions slightly larger or smaller could also be used. The upper spreader 6 shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 can be constructed of either a flat piece or a curved piece. The flat-piece embodiment is shown in FIG. 3. The curved piece embodiment 23 is shown in FIG. 4. Either embodiment will function satisfactorily. The curved piece can be attached with the concave side resting next to the pole grip, thus affording a more streamlined appearance.