Title:
Ballistic resistant face mask
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A neck extension includes at least one layer of ballistic material that is shaped to have a nose portion and a throat portion located below the nose portion, which generally correspond to a nose area and mouth area of a face mask. A left neck portion and a right neck portion each extend from the nose portion and throat portion and are configured to wrap around a user's neck when worn. An inner surface of the neck extension attaches to the face mask. The throat portion may be shaped to extend below the mask to provide protection to the user's throat.



Inventors:
Slate, Michael J. (Lantana, FL, US)
Ritter, Eric D. (Monmouth, ME, US)
Farrell, Stan Edward (Manchester, ME, US)
Mcgovern, Shawn (Lachine, CA)
Application Number:
11/349318
Publication Date:
12/31/2009
Filing Date:
02/07/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/9, 2/468
International Classes:
F41H1/02; A41D13/00
View Patent Images:
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20020116741Air driven muscle toning garmentAugust, 2002Young
20070050898Surgical protective system and assembly having a head gear assembly supporting a surgical garment and air delivery systemMarch, 2007Larson et al.
20060278252Multipurpose hair apparelDecember, 2006Miller
20050188447Athletic apparel with applied indiciaSeptember, 2005Gray
20070250987Ponytail creating head garmentNovember, 2007Adkins
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Primary Examiner:
PATEL, TAJASH D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOLLAND & KNIGHT LLP (BOSTON, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a face mask shaped to cover at least a portion of a user's face including a face mask inner surface and a face mask outer surface, a nose area, a mouth area located below the nose area, and goggles located above the nose area; and a neck extension including at least one layer of ballistic material, the ballistic material comprising a nose portion and a throat portion located below the nose portion, the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and the throat portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and configured to wrap around the user's neck when worn, an inner surface, and an outer surface, at least a portion of the inner surface of the neck extension attached to the face mask outer surface.

2. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the ballistic material is selected from the group consisting of aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), and polyester.

3. The ballistic resistant garment of claim I further comprising a first half of a fastener disposed on the face mask outer surface and a second half of a fastener disposed on the inner surface of the neck extension and located to align with the first half of the fastener on the face mask, the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener enabling the neck extension to attach to the face mask outer surface.

4. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 3 wherein the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener are selected from the group consisting of a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button, and tape.

5. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 further comprising a first half of a removable connector disposed adjacent a distal end of the left neck portion and a second half of a removable connector disposed adjacent a distal end of the right neck portion, the first half and the second half of the removable connector configured to enable the left neck portion and right neck portion to be held around the user's neck.

6. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 5 wherein the first half of the removable connector and the second half of the removable connector are selected from the group consisting of a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button and a two piece buckle.

7. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 1 wherein the inner surface and outer surface of the neck extension are a cover material disposed around the ballistic material.

8. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 7 wherein the cover material is selected from the group consisting of ballistic material, non-ballistic material, fabric and resin.

9. The ballistic garment of claim 1 wherein the face mask is made of a ballistic resistant material.

10. The ballistic garment of claim 1 wherein the face mask is configured to be worn with a helmet.

11. The ballistic garment of claim 1 wherein the face mask is configured to integrally fit with a specific helmet.

12. The ballistic garment of claim 1 wherein the ballistic material comprises more than one layer of ballistic material.

13. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 12 wherein the ballistic material is selected from the group consisting of aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), polyester or any combination thereof.

14. The ballistic garment of claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the ballistic material is treated with a resin.

15. The ballistic garment of claim 12 wherein at least one layer of the ballistic material is treated with a resin.

16. The ballistic garment of claim 12 further comprising a layer of felt core material treated with a resin.

17. The ballistic garment of claim 1 further comprising a hard armor element disposed on the ballistic resistant neck extension.

18. The ballistic garment of claim 17 wherein the hard armor element is selected from the group consisting of ceramic, titanium, boron carbide, silicon carbide, alumina, zirconia, magnesia, cubic boron nitride, silicon nitride, steel, and aluminum.

19. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a face mask shaped to cover at least a portion of user's face, including a face mask inner surface and a face mask outer surface, the face mask inner surface being adjacent a user's face when worn by the user, a nose area generally located adjacent the user's nose when worn by the user, a mouth area located below the nose area and generally located adjacent the user's mouth when worn by the user, goggles located above the nose area and generally located adjacent the user's eyes when worn by the user, and a plurality of a first half of a fastener disposed on the face mask outer surface; and a neck extension comprising: at least one layer of ballistic material, the ballistic material including a nose portion and a throat portion located below the nose portion, the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and the throat portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion; an outer cover disposed around the ballistic material; a first half of a removable connector disposed on the outer cover and adjacent a distal end of the left neck portion and a second half of a removable connector disposed on the outer cover and adjacent a distal end of the right neck portion, the first half and the second half of the removable connector configured to enable the left neck portion and right neck portion to be held around the user's neck; an inner surface; an outer surface; and a plurality of a second half of a fastener, the plurality of the second half of the fastener disposed on the inner surface and located to align with the plurality of the first half of the fastener on the face mask and attach the neck extension to the face mask outer surface.

20. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 19 wherein the ballistic material is selected from the group consisting of aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), and polyester.

21. The ballistic resistant garment of claim 19 wherein the first half of the fasteners and the second half of the fasteners are selected from the group consisting of snaps, hook and loop fasteners, buttons, and tape.

22. The ballistic garment of claim 19 wherein at least one layer of the ballistic material is treated with a resin.

23. The ballistic garment of claim 19 wherein the face mask is made of a ballistic resistant material.

24. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a face mask shaped to cover at least a portion of a user's face including a face mask inner surface and a face mask outer surface, a nose area, a mouth area located below the nose area, and goggles located above the nose area; and a ballistic neck extension including at least one layer of ballistic material, the ballistic material comprising a nose portion and a throat portion located below the nose portion, the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and the throat portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and configured to wrap around the user's neck when worn, an inner surface, and an outer surface, at least a portion of the inner surface of the ballistic neck extension attached to the face mask outer surface.

25. A ballistic resistant neck extension for a face mask comprising: at least one layer of ballistic material, the ballistic material comprising a nose portion and a throat portion located below the nose portion, the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a nose area of the face mask and the throat portion shaped to generally correspond to a mouth area of the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and configured to wrap around a user's neck when worn, an inner surface, and an outer surface, at least a portion of the inner surface of the ballistic resistant neck extension attached to the face mask.

26. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 25 wherein the inner surface and the outer surface of the ballistic neck extension are a cover material disposed around the ballistic material.

27. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 25 the ballistic material is selected from the group consisting of aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), polyester or any combination thereof.

28. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 25 further comprising a second half of a fastener disposed on the inner surface of the ballistic neck extension and located to align with a first half of a fastener on the face mask, the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener enabling the ballistic neck extension to attach to an outer surface of the face mask.

29. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 28 wherein the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener are selected from the group consisting of a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button, and tape.

30. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 25 wherein the throat portion is shaped to extend below the mouth area of the face mask.

31. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 25 wherein at least a portion of the ballistic material is treated with a resin.

32. The ballistic resistant neck extension of claim 31 wherein the resin is selected from the group consisting of acrylic, phenolic, vinyl ester, epoxy, and any other suitable thermoplastic or thermoset polymer.

33. A ballistic resistant neck extension for a face mask comprising: at least one layer of ballistic material comprising a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a mouth area of the face mask and extend below the mouth area of the face mask; and an inner surface, at least a portion of the inner surface attached to the face mask.

34. A ballistic resistant garment comprising: a face mask including a face mask outer surface, a nose area, and a mouth area located below the nose area; and a ballistic neck extension including at least one layer of ballistic material comprising a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the mouth area, and an inner surface, at least a portion of the inner surface attached to the face mask outer surface.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to ballistic resistant face masks and more specifically to ballistic resistant face masks with neck protection.

BACKGROUND

Ballistic resistant garments are available to protect various parts of the body from various ballistic threats, such as bullets or shrapnel. Some ballistic resistant garments are made of “soft armor,” which is generally flexible. For example, ballistic resistant vests that are worn to protect a user's torso are usually made of soft body armor. Other garments are made of “hard armor,” which are generally stiff and inflexible. For example, helmets worn to protect a user's head are generally made of hard armor. However, some garments may employ a combination of soft and hard armor to increase protection for the user.

Ballistic resistant garments are often used in high threat situations, such as firefights or riots, by military or police personnel. In these situations, a user of these ballistic resistant garments must be adequately covered but freely mobile and be able to visualize possible threats. Thus, any ballistic resistant garment worn by the user must provide maximum body coverage while not restricting the user's mobility. If the ballistic resistant garment is restrictive or not comfortable, a user may not wear this protective equipment.

Ballistic resistant vests and ballistic resistant helmets may not provide adequate coverage for the neck and throat, leaving those body parts exposed to a ballistic threat. Some vests provide high collars around the neck, but these tend to restrict head movement or interfere with the user's field of vision. Some helmets may provide an extension on the rear of the helmet made of hard or soft armor. However, these types of extensions may interfere with head movement or may not provide full protection for the neck and throat (e.g., only protect the back of the neck).

Further, ballistic resistant face masks alone may not provide adequate protection of the face in certain situations because the material necessary to increase the ballistic protection may cause the mask to become thick and heavy. The thicker and heaver the face mask, the less likely the user is to wear the face mask because it becomes more uncomfortable. Also, a thicker mask may tend to obstruct the user's vision. Further still, a face mask may not be made of ballistic material and therefore not provide any protection, or minimal protection, from ballistic threats.

SUMMARY

The present invention provides a ballistic resistant face mask that provides improved protection for the face, neck and throat without restricting the user's mobility or obstructing the user's line if sight.

In general, in one aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment that includes a face mask shaped to cover at least a portion of a user's face and a neck extension that attaches to the face mask. The face mask includes an inner surface and an outer surface, a nose area, a mouth area located below the nose area, and goggles located above the nose area. The neck extension includes at least one layer of ballistic material that includes a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion that is shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the face mask. The ballistic material also includes a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and shaped to wrap around the user's neck when worn. The neck extension also has an inner surface and an outer surface. At least a portion of the inner surface of the neck extension attaches to the face mask outer surface.

In embodiments, the ballistic material may be aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), or polyester.

In other embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment also includes a first half of a fastener disposed on the face mask outer surface and a second half of a fastener disposed on the inner surface of the neck extension and located to align with the first half of the fastener on the face mask. The first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener enable the neck extension to attach to the face mask outer surface. In other embodiments, the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener may be a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button, or tape.

In embodiments, the ballistic resistant garment also includes a first half of a removable connector located adjacent to a distal end of the left neck portion of the neck extension and a second half of a removable connector located adjacent to a distal end of the right neck portion of the neck extension. The first half and the second half of the removable connector are configured to enable the left neck portion and right neck portion to be held around the user's neck. In other embodiments, the first half of the removable connector and the second half of the removable connector may be a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button or a two piece buckle.

In embodiments, the inner surface and outer surface of the neck extension are a cover material that is disposed around the ballistic material. In other embodiments, the cover may be ballistic material, non-ballistic material, fabric and resin.

In embodiments, the face mask is made of a ballistic resistant material. In other embodiments, the face mask is shaped to be worn with a helmet. In still other embodiments, the face mask is configured to integrally fit with a specific helmet.

In embodiments, the ballistic material may be more than one layer of ballistic material. In other embodiments, the ballistic material may be aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), polyester or any combination thereof.

In embodiments, at least a portion of the ballistic material is treated with a resin. In other embodiments, at least one layer of the ballistic material is treated with a resin. In other embodiments, the ballistic garment also includes a layer of felt core material treated with a resin.

In embodiments, the ballistic garment also includes a hard armor element disposed on the ballistic resistant neck extension. In other embodiments, the hard armor element may be ceramic, titanium, boron carbide, silicon carbide, alumina, zirconia, magnesia, cubic boron nitride, silicon nitride, steel, and aluminum.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment including a face mask and a neck extension attached to the face mask. The face mask is shaped to cover at least a portion of a user's face. The face mask includes an inner surface adjacent a user's face when worn by the user and an outer surface, a nose area generally located adjacent the user's nose when worn by the user, a mouth area located below the nose area and generally located adjacent the user's mouth when worn by the user, goggles located above the nose area and generally located adjacent the user's eyes when worn by the user, and the first half of several fasteners attached to the outer surface of the face mask.

The neck extension includes at least one layer of ballistic material having a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion and shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the face mask. The neck extension also includes a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion. An outer cover is wrapped around the ballistic material and includes a first half of a removable connector adjacent a distal end of the left neck portion and a second half of a removable connector adjacent a distal end of the right neck portion. The first half and the second half of the removable connector are configured to enable the left neck portion and right neck portion to be held around the user's neck. The neck extension also includes an inner surface and an outer surface. A second half of several fastener are located on the inner surface and arranged to align with the first half of the several fastener on the face mask to attach the neck extension to the face mask outer surface.

In embodiments, the first half of the fasteners and the second half of the fasteners may be snaps, hook and loop fasteners, buttons, or tape.

In embodiments, the ballistic material may be aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), or polyester. In other embodiments, at least one layer of the ballistic material is treated with a resin.

In embodiments, the face mask is made of a ballistic resistant material.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment that includes a face mask and a ballistic neck extension attached to the face mask. The face mask is shaped to cover at least a portion of a user's face and has an inner surface, an outer surface, a nose area, a mouth area located below the nose area, and goggles located above the nose area. The ballistic neck extension includes at least one layer of ballistic material that has a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and configured to wrap around the user's neck when worn. The neck extender also has an inner surface and an outer surface. At least a portion of the inner surface of the ballistic neck extension attaches to the face mask outer surface.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant neck extension for a face mask. The ballistic resistant neck extension has at least one layer of ballistic material that has a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a mouth area of the face mask, a left neck portion and a right neck portion each extending from the nose portion and throat portion and configured to wrap around a user's neck when worn. The neck extension also includes an inner surface and an outer surface. At least a portion of the inner surface of the ballistic resistant neck extension attaches to the face mask.

In embodiments, the inner surface and the outer surface of the ballistic neck extension are a cover material disposed around the ballistic material.

In embodiments, the ballistic material may be aramid, para-aramid, polypropylene, polyethylene, poly (p-phenylene-2,6-benzobisoxazole), polyester or any combination thereof.

In embodiments, the ballistic resistant neck extension also includes a second half of a fastener disposed on the inner surface of the ballistic neck extension and located to align with a first half of a fastener on the face mask. The first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener enable the ballistic neck extension to attach to an outer surface of the face mask. In other embodiments, the first half of the fastener and the second half of the fastener may be a snap, a hook and loop fastener, a button, and tape.

In embodiments, the throat portion is shaped to extend below the mouth area of the face mask.

In embodiments, at least a portion of the ballistic material is treated with a resin. In other embodiments, the resin may be acrylic, phenolic, vinyl ester, epoxy, or any other suitable thermoplastic or thermoset polymer.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant neck extension for a face mask including at least one layer of ballistic material having a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to a mouth area of the face mask and extend below the mouth area of the face mask. The neck extension has an inner surface, at least a portion of which is attached to the face mask.

In general, in another aspect, the invention features a ballistic resistant garment including a face mask and a ballistic neck extension. The face mask includes an outer surface, a nose area, and a mouth area located below the nose area. The ballistic neck extension includes at least one layer of ballistic material having a nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the nose area of the face mask and a throat portion located below the nose portion shaped to generally correspond to the mouth area of the face mask and extend below the mouth area. The neck extension has an inner surface, at least a portion of which is attached to the outer surface of the face mask.

The invention can be implemented to realize one or more of the following advantages. The ballistic resistant face mask with neck extension provides coverage of the neck and throat of the user without limiting mobility or vision. The neck extension also provides protection for the face, particularly the nose and mouth areas of the user, because the neck extension is layered on top of the face mask. Because the ballistic resistant neck extension is attached to the outer surface of the face mask, it is spaced away from the user's throat and face. The space makes the face mask more comfortable by allowing air to circulate around the neck. The space also provides more protection for the throat from ballistic threats by allowing more distance for the ballistic threat to be slowed or stopped before contacting the user's throat. Further, because the ballistic resistant neck extension is attached at the protruding nose area of the face mask, there is a space between the mouth area and the ballistic resistant neck extension that allows easier breathability. Also, because the ballistic resistant neck extension is attached to the face mask, it moves with the user's head, thereby providing better mobility. The ballistic resistant face mask does not restrict the user's vision because the ballistic resistant neck extension is attached to the ballistic resistant face mask below the eyes. Also, the ballistic resistant neck extension may help alleviate some dust infiltration into the face mask in dusty or sandy areas.

Other features and advantages of the invention are apparent from the following description, and from the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is front view of a ballistic resistant face mask.

FIG. 2 is back view of a ballistic resistant neck extension.

FIG. 3 is a front view of a ballistic resistant face mask with an attached ballistic resistant neck extension.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the ballistic resistant face mask with an attached ballistic resistant neck extension of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is a front view of a user wearing a ballistic resistant face mask with attached ballistic resistant neck extension.

FIG. 6 is a side view of a user wearing a ballistic resistant face mask with attached ballistic resistant neck extension.

FIG. 7 is a side view of a user wearing a ballistic resistant face mask with attached ballistic resistant neck extension.

FIG. 8 is a front view of a user wearing a ballistic resistant face mask with attached ballistic resistant neck extension.

Like reference numbers and designations in the various drawings indicate like elements.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

As shown in FIG. 1, a face mask 10 includes integrated goggles 15 that have a seal 20 around it periphery to secure around a user's eyes and provide a soft contact area between the face mask 10 and a user's face. The face mask 10 includes a nose area 25 having nose holes 30 and a mouth area 35 having mouth holes 40. The nose holes 30 and mouth holes 40 facilitate breathing and talking through the face mask 10. The face mask 10 wraps around the user's face and is held in place by an adjustable strap 45 (FIG. 4). The adjustable strap 45 includes a fastener 50 to enable the user to attach or remove the face mask 10. The fastener 50 may be a two piece buckle, a hook and loop fastener, buttons, snaps or any other suitable fastener. The face mask 10 also includes a first half of snaps 55.

The face mask 10 may be ballistic resistant or merely impact resistant. For example, the face mask 10 may be made of a high impact nylon pellets which are injection molded into the shape of the face mask 10, producing an impact resistant face mask. As explained below, ballistic protection may be provided by a ballistic resistant neck extension 60 (FIG. 2). The integrated goggles 15 may be made of a transparent, ballistic resistant material, such as polycarbonate.

Referring to FIG. 2, the ballistic resistant neck extension 60 includes a nose portion 65 and a throat portion 70 below the nose portion 65. A right neck portion 75 and left neck portion 76 extend from the nose portion 65 and throat portion 70 to a right distal end 77 and a left distal end 78. The ballistic neck extension 60 is shaped such that the nose portion 65 will not cover or interfere with the goggles 15 and the throat portion 70 will extend below the face mask 10 when attached to the face mask 10, as explained fully below.

The neck extension 60 includes an inner surface 80. and an outer surface 85 (FIG. 3). A second half of snaps 87 are disposed on the inner surface 80 of the neck extension 60 and are arranged in a manner that enables them to align with the first half of the snaps 55 when the neck extension 60 is attached to the face mask 10, explained fully below. A first half of a removable fastener 90 is affixed to the inner surface 80 of the neck extension 60 adjacent to the right distal end 77. A second half of a removable fastener 95 is affixed to the outer surface 85 of the neck extension 60 adjacent to the left distal end 78. The two halves of the removable fastener 90 and 95 may be hook and loop, snaps, a buckle or any other suitable two piece fastener.

The neck extension 60 may be made of a soft armor. For example, to provide protection from a Level 1 threat (as defined in the National Institute for Justice Standard 0101.04 (“NIJ Standard”)), the neck extension 60 may be made of an aramid fabric having a denier of 840 d and an areal density of 52.5 oz/yd2 (0.365 psf). The fabric may be made to a thickness of 0.145 inches and then covered with a 500 denier Cordura fabric for comfort. This configuration may provide protection of V50 at 0° of 1145 fps with an average deformation of 26.6 mm when struck with a 0.380 (95 gr) ACP full metal jacketed round nose bullet.

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, in use, the neck extension 60 is attached to the face mask 10 below the goggles 15. The nose portion 65 of the neck extension 60 is aligned with the nose area 25 of the face mask 10. The second half of the snaps 87 on the inner surface 80 of the neck extension 60 are aligned with the first half of the snaps 55 on the face mask 10 and snapped together, attaching the neck extension 60 firmly to the face mask 10. Because the nose area 25 of the face mask 10 protrudes further than the mouth area 35, a gap 100 results between the neck extension 60 and the mouth area 35 of the face mask 10. This gap 100 provides air movement and allows for better breathability for the user. Further, because the neck extension 60 is shaped to not cover or interfere with the goggles 15, the user's vision is not obscured. Also, the neck extension 60 will not move up towards the goggles 15 in use because the neck extension is attached to the face mask 10.

The right neck portion 75 and left neck portion 76 are wrapped around the face mask 10. The user connects the two halves of the removable fasteners 90 and 95 to secure the neck extension 60 around the user's neck.

As can be seen in FIGS. 5-7, a user 110 wearing the face mask 10 with the neck extension 60 attached will have his neck 120 and throat 125 protected from ballistic threats. The throat portion 70 of the neck extension 60 (FIG. 5) extends down onto the user's upper chest 115, thereby covering the user's neck 120, throat 125 and upper chest 115. However, because the neck extension 60 is attached to the face mask 10 below the goggles 15, a line of sight is not blocked or otherwise impeded. Further, when the user 110 turns his head, the face mask 10 and neck extension 60 will turn with him, allowing better mobility. Also, as can be seen in FIGS. 6 and 7, the throat section 170 is spaced away from the user's throat 125. This space provides more protection for the user because it provides a greater distance in which the soft armor can slow the ballistic threat, thereby minimizing any trauma the back face signature (as defined in the NIJ Standard) of the soft armor may cause. This space also enables better mobility because the throat portion 70 does not directly contact the user 110.

As can be seen in FIG. 4, the neck extension 60 also overlaps a large portion of the face mask 10. This overlap provides additional protection for the user's face from ballistic threats. For example, if the face mask 10 is not ballistic resistant, the portion of the neck extension 60 that overlaps the face mask 10 will provide some level of ballistic protection. If the face mask 10 is made of ballistic resistant material, then the neck extension 60 would increase the ballistic protection of the face mask 10. Also, the gap 100, while providing better breathability, also provides a greater distance in which the soft armor can slow the ballistic threat, thereby minimizing any trauma the back face signature (as defined in the NIJ Standard) of the soft armor may cause to the face mask 10 and ultimately the user's face. This allows the overall thickness of the face mask 10 itself to be thinner, while providing additional protection when needed.

The neck extension may be configured for varying degrees of protection. For example, as shown in FIG. 6, a neck extension 160 can be made longer in the front only, thereby providing protection for the user's throat 125 from ballistic threats directly in front of the user. However, if more protection is desired, a neck extension 260 (FIG. 7) may be made with a wider left neck portion 276 and right neck portion (not shown) to protect the entire neck 120, including the sides and back of the neck. Further, because users are shaped differently (e.g., longer or shorter necks, thicker or thinner necks) the neck extension 60 may be custom fit to individual users, which provides better protection as well as a better fit, thereby encouraging a user to wear the neck extension 60 more often.

As shown in FIG. 8, the face mask 10 and neck extension 60 may also be worn with a helmet 130, which provides further head protection for the user 110. The face mask 10 may be designed to integrally fit with a specific helmet 130, or be made to work generally with any helmet.

It is to be understood that the foregoing description is intended to illustrate and not to limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the scope of the appended claims. Other embodiments are within the scope of the following claims. For example, while the neck extension has been described as being made from an aramid fabric, it may be made of any soft body armor, such as para-aramid (e.g., Kevlar), polypropylene, PBO, polyethylene or any other ballistic-resistant material or combination thereof. Further, while the aramid fabric was described as being of a particular denier, areal density and thickness, ballistic resistant fabric having any denier, areal density or thickness may be used.

Further, several layers of ballistic resistant fabric may be combined together to produce the neck extension 60, and the various layers may be of different ballistic resistant materials. Further still, the several layers may include woven and non-woven fabrics. When several layers of woven and non-woven fabrics are used, the stack of layers may be subjected to a needling process to tie the layers together. In a needling process, needles are driven perpendicularly through the layers and catch on the non-woven fibers. As the needles are withdrawn, they pull the non-woven fibers into and through the woven layers. The needling process entangles the non-woven fibers into the woven layers substantially perpendicular to the x-y plane, which mechanically connects the various layers and helps prevent the individual yarns from separating during a ballistic impact. The needling processes also increases the density of the ballistic material by engaging more fibers per unit volume.

Also, while the neck extension 60 has been described as extending beyond the face mask 10 to cover the throat area and more of the user's neck, the neck extension 60 may be made to only cover the face mask 10. For example, the throat portion 70 may be sized to cover only the mouth area 35 of a non-ballistic face mask 10 to provide ballistic protection to the user's face. This enables users to convert a non-ballistic face mask 10 into a face mask that provides ballistic protection.

Further, while the neck extension 60 has been described as soft, flexible armor, the armor may be stiffened with thermoplastic or thermoset polymers. For example, an aramid fabric may be treated with an acrylic resin to make the material stiffer to provide a rigid or semi-rigid neck extension. A rigid or semi-rigid neck extension would be attached directly to the face mask 10 in the same way as described above and may provide greater protection and provide stiffness and shape to the face mask 10 and neck extension 60.

Also, less than all the layers of the soft armor may be treated with resin to stiffen the armor. For example, the soft armor may include several layers of aramid fabric, as described above, sandwiched around a felt core treated with a vinyl ester resin. Further, only specific areas of the neck extension 60 may be treated with resin to provide selective stiffness in the neck extension 60. For example, the area of the neck extension 60 that overlaps the nose area 25 and mouth area 35 may be stiffened with resin to provide more protection for the face, while the rest of the neck extension 60 may remain soft for greater comfort and mobility.

Further still, hard body armors may be combined with the soft body armor for more protection. For example, a ceramic plate may be combined in the throat portion 70 of the neck extension 60, thereby increasing the amount of protection from other threat levels.

Also, while the neck extension 60 was described as attaching to the face mask 10 with snaps, any removable fasteners may be used, such as hook and loop, buttons or any other removable fastener. Further still, the neck extension 60 may be permanently attached to the face mask 10, for example by glue or epoxy.