Title:
Carrier system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A carrier system for use with a body armor garment that distributes the shoulder loads produced by equipment carried or worn by military or law enforcement personnel, away from the user's shoulders and comfortably to the hips. Heavy shoulder loads, which typically cause chronic back pain and can lead to compression of the spine, are significantly mitigated. The carrier system has a vertical back support and a belt for securing the device around the waist of the user. In addition to alleviating shoulder fatigue and spine compression, the device is light, comfortable, durable, adjustable and easy to maintain.



Inventors:
Neibarger, John E. (Virginia Beach, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/800772
Publication Date:
11/25/2010
Filing Date:
05/21/2010
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/2.5, 224/625
International Classes:
A45C15/00; A45F3/02; F41H1/02
View Patent Images:
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Foreign References:
WO2008089128A22008-07-24
Primary Examiner:
THEIS, MATTHEW T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Williams Mullen (Raleigh, NC, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A carrier apparatus for carrying a shoulder load having at least one shoulder strap, the apparatus comprising: a flexible and adjustable waist strap adapted to encircle a wearer's waist, the waist strap having at least a first end and a second end and a fastening device for detachably securing the first end and second end in front of a wearer; an upright support member attached to the waist strap at a portion of the waist strap substantially mid-portion between the waist strap first end and second end and corresponding approximately to the wearer's back, the upright support member extending vertically for a desired length along the wearer's back; wherein the upright support member has a wearer facing side, an opposing exterior side, a central upper edge; at least two upper tabs that extend in a vertical direction beyond the central upper edge and the height of the wearer's shoulders, but not exceeding the height of the wearer's chin; wherein at least the two upper tabs are separated by the central upper edge and are situated at a lateral point on the upright support member corresponding to the wearer's shoulders; wherein the tab is positioned on the upper edge such that the upright support member receives at least a portion of the shoulder load via the shoulder strap and the tab; and wherein at least a portion of the shoulder load is transmitted downwardly through the upright support member to the wearer's hips.

2. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the central upper edge is about six to eighteen inches wide.

3. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright support member is ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of the wearer's back and the two upper tabs follow the contour of the wearer's shoulders.

4. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright support member is pivotably attached to the waist strap in a manner that permits the support member to rotate laterally with respect to the waist strap.

5. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright support member further comprises at least one cushion situated on the wearer facing side between the upright support member and the wearer.

6. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the upright support member is semi-rigid.

7. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the two upper tabs define a tab top edge having a strap retention device.

8. The carrier apparatus of claim 1, wherein the central upper edge is situated at a vertical point on the upright support member corresponding no higher than the wearer's shoulders.

9. A carrier system for use with a vest having a downwardly open support pocket on an inside surface and a shoulder strap adapted to transfer a shoulder load to a shoulder of a wearer comprising: a flexible and adjustable waist strap adapted to encircle a wearer's waist, the waist strap having at least a first end and a second end and a fastening device for detachably securing the first end and second end; an upright support member attached to the waist strap at a portion of the waist strap substantially mid-portion between the waist strap first end and second end and corresponding approximately to the wearer's back, the upright support member extending vertically for a desired length along the wearer's back; wherein the upright support member has a wearer facing side, an opposing exterior side, a central upper edge; two upper tabs that extend in a vertical direction beyond the central upper edge and the height of the wearer's shoulders, but not exceeding the height of the wearer's chin; wherein the two upper tabs are separated by the central upper edge and are situated at a lateral point on the upright support member corresponding to the wearer's shoulders; wherein the upright support member is adapted to engage with the support pocket and the two upper tabs of the support member are adapted to receive a shoulder load via at least one of the shoulder straps; and wherein at least a portion of the shoulder load is transmitted downwardly through the upright support member to the wearer's hips.

10. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the central upper edge is about six to eighteen inches wide.

11. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the support member is ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of a wearer's back and the two upper tabs follow the contour of the wearer's shoulders.

12. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the support member is attached to the waist strap in a manner that permits the support member to rotate laterally with respect to the waist strap.

13. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the support member defines a wearer facing side and an opposing exterior side, and the support member further comprises at least one cushion situated on the wearer facing side.

14. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the support member is semi-rigid.

15. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the two upper tabs define a tab top edge having a strap retention device.

16. The carrier system of claim 9, wherein the central upper edge is situated at a vertical point on the upright support member corresponding no higher than the wearer's shoulders.

17. A carrier system for use with a vest having a vest front, a flexible left shoulder strap, a flexible right shoulder strap, and a vest rear, the shoulder straps adapted to transfer a shoulder load to a shoulder of a wearer; the system comprising: a flexible and adjustable waist strap adapted to encircle a wearer's waist, the waist strap having at least a first end and a second end and a fastening device for detachably securing the first end and second end; an upright support member attached to the waist strap at a portion of the waist strap substantially mid-portion between the waist strap first end and second end and corresponding approximately to the wearer's back, the upright support member extending vertically for a desired length along the wearer's back; wherein the upright support member has a wearer facing side, an opposing exterior side, a central upper edge; at least two upper tabs that extend in a vertical direction beyond the central upper edge and the height of the wearer's shoulders, but not exceeding the height of the wearer's chin; wherein the at least two upper tabs are separated by the central upper edge and are situated at a lateral point on the upright support member corresponding to the wearer's shoulders; and wherein at least a portion of the shoulder load is transmitted downwardly through the upright support member to the wearer's hips.

18. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the central upper edge is about six to eighteen inches wide.

19. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the support member is ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of a wearer's back and the two upper tabs follow the contour of the wearer's shoulders.

20. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the support member is attached to the waist strap in a manner that permits the support member to rotate laterally with respect to the waist strap.

21. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the support member defines a wearer facing side and an opposing exterior side, and further comprises at least one cushion situated on the wearer facing side.

22. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the support member is semi-rigid.

23. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the two upper tabs define a tab top edge having a strap retention device, and

24. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the central upper edge is situated at a vertical point on the upright support member corresponding no higher than the wearer's shoulders.

25. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the tabs are between 0.1 inches to about 3 inches above the adjacent central upper edge.

26. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the vest has a downwardly open support pocket on the vest rear, and further where the upright support member is adapted to engage with the downwardly open support pocket such that the two upper tabs may then receive a shoulder load via the shoulder strap.

27. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the two upper tabs are adapted to receive a shoulder load via the shoulder strap.

28. The carrier system of claim 17, wherein the vest further has at least one armor pouch capable of receiving a ballistic armor insert.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims priority benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/180,524, titled “Carrier System,” filed May 22, 2009, which is herein incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Disclosure

The present invention relates to a carrier system for use with garments such as body armor vests.

2. Background of the Disclosure

Whether in police or security operations, military operations other than war, or combat, the need for ballistic resistant garments or body armor is well established. Body armor vests are garments with pouches that are adapted to contain pieces of ballistic armor. Ballistic armor generally comprises ceramic or metallic plates for the protection of portions of a wearer's body. The vests are often constructed of flexible fabric that is sufficiently durable for the contemplated application.

Body armor capable of offering enhanced protection from higher caliber projectiles or those protecting a greater amount of surface area of the body can be heavy. This load is borne entirely on the shoulders of the user.

Current body armor systems are typically adapted for the circumstances of use. For example, in policing embodiments, a body armor vest might be outfitted with various additional pockets, loops, or straps for carrying required policing equipment. The body armor vest is attractive as a carrier system because it frees the waist and legs of the individual, enabling a greater range of ambulatory activity. Additional gear such as backpacks, armament or mobile communication equipment are often carried on top of the body armor using shoulder straps thereby adding more load to the shoulders. Straps can also interfere with visibility, head movement, can break and need adjustment. Straps can also allow the load to be further from the wearer allowing the load to shift in difficult terrain.

A disadvantage of conventional body armor carrier systems is that it transfers much of the weight of the equipment, ammunition, etc., to the shoulders of the wearer. Of course, this is in addition to the weight of the armor or any shoulder born back pack. In some military applications, for example, the combined weight of armor and equipment may be 100 pounds or more. This arrangement can rapidly lead to fatigue and, in some cases, compression of the spine. Spinal compression or back injury has become common among some military personnel because of such great loads.

It would be desirable to have a carrier system that enables a person wearing a ballistic vest freedom of movement for ambulatory activity without overloading the back of the wearer. Further it would be desirable if the carrier system assisted in distributing other shoulder borne loads to the waist without the need for additional equipment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This disclosure describes a carrier system for use with ballistic garments having a shoulder strap adapted to transfer a shoulder load to the shoulder of a user having a flexible and adjustable waist strap adapted to encircle the user's waist. The waist strap has at least two ends and a fastening device for detachably securing the ends and a semi-rigid upright support member attached to the waist strap at a portion of the waist strap substantially midway between the waist strap ends and corresponding to the user's back. The upright support member extends vertically for a desired length along a user's back. The upright support member has a side facing the user, an opposing exterior side, and an upper edge with at least one portion of the upper edge extending in a vertical direction beyond the height of the user's shoulders.

In an embodiment, the upper edge extends in a vertical direction up to but not exceeding the height of the wearer's chin.

An embodiment of the carrier system is that it is adaptable for use with a body armor vest.

In another embodiment the upright support member has an upper edge with at least one tab that extends in a vertical direction beyond the height of the user's shoulders adaptive to receive at least a portion of any shoulder load holding the load in compression through the upright support member and directly to the hips of the user.

In yet another embodiment the at least one tab has two or more tabs situated on the upper edge at a point corresponding laterally to the user's shoulders.

In another embodiment, the upright support member is ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of the user's back.

In another embodiment, the upright support member is attached to the belt in a manner that permits the upright support member to rotate laterally from side to side with respect to the belt.

The support member may further have at least one cushion situated on a side facing the back or hips of the user.

An aspect of another embodiment of the carrier system is a body armor carrier system, where the carrier system has a body armor vest having a downwardly open support pocket on the back that situates over the upright support member upper edge where the body armor load is distributed over the upper edge and to the hips of the user through the upright support member and belt.

Another aspect of the invention is a body armor vest, with a fabric vest having at least one armor pouch adapted to receive a piece of armor with the rear of the fabric vest facing away from the user having at least one downwardly open support pocket. There is at least one flexible first side portion connecting the vest front with the vest rear, and at least one flexible second side portion connecting the vest front with the vest rear. The system also includes an adjustable waist belt having a semi-rigid upright support member extending in a vertical manner for about the length of a wearer's back, attached to the belt at the portion of the belt corresponding to the wearers back, the support member having an upper edge; and wherein the support member is adapted to engage with the support pocket and the upper edge of the support member is adapted to receive a load.

In another embodiment the additional loads, such as armament, communications devices, backpacks or military issue gear, may be quickly mounted or removed from the carrier system without the need to use an additional backpack frame and without the need to fasten loads to the carrier system.

In yet another embodiment the loads over the body armor will be closer to the body than with conventional frames systems providing a smaller user profile from front to rear with minimal restrictions to user mobility. Additionally, this may aid in improved peripheral visibility and a lower center of gravity for increased stability.

In yet another embodiment the carrier system is simple to construct with low cost to manufacture and with increased reliability due to few parts that can fail. It is lightweight and compact requiring no modifications or adjustments to be made by the user when carrying additional loads.

These and other advantages of the invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the written specification, claims and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of an embodiment of the invention.

FIG. 3 shows the shoulder load with straps on the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present disclosure relates to a carrier apparatus and carrier system for use with garments such as body armor vests. With reference to the drawings, the present disclosure is a carrier system that enables ambulatory activity by transferring the load from the shoulders to the hips of the user without overloading the back of the user. The carrier system may take any of a variety of embodiments disclosed herein.

As may be seen in FIGS. 1-2, an embodiment of the carrier apparatus 1. The belt 5 includes a flexible and adjustable waist strap 10 having an upright support member 15 attached to the belt 5 at the mid-portion 20 of the strap corresponding approximately the center of the waist strap 10 which will approximate the middle of the wearers back. The waist strap 10 has at least a first end 12 and a second end 13 that are releasably closable with a fastening system 14 which may include a clasp, buckle, hook and loop, clamp, clip or other device for securing the ends of the waist strap 10 or belt 5 in front of a wearer, generally where a belt buckle would reside near to the center of the hips. The upright support member 15 extends in a vertical manner for approximately the length of a wearer's back. The support member 15 has a central upper edge 25 and a wearer facing side 17 and an opposing exterior side 18. The support member 15 is from one to eighteen inches in width and may have sides that are relatively parallel to each other or of specific shapes such as a narrow base at the belt 5 and a widening at the central upper edge 25 of six to eighteen inches to accommodate shoulder widths. The support member 15 may be perforated or shaped for removal of unnecessary weight without compromising the load bearing integrity. The material of the upright support member 15 may be rigid or semi-rigid and made of metal or plastic, polycarbonate, acrylic, carbon fiber or a combination of materials including structural foam with the thickness of material relative to the vertical loading. The central upper edge 25 extends in the vertical direction, at or below the height of the wearer's shoulders (not shown).

The upright support member has the central upper edge 25 and features at least two upper tabs 30 that extend in a vertical direction greater than the height of the wearer's shoulders. The at least one tab 30 may be a first tab 32 and a second tab 33 situated on the central upper edge 25 at a point corresponding to the wearer's shoulders. The spacing of the first tab 32 to the second tab 33 is between 6 inches and 18 inches allowing for a shoulder strap from an additional back borne load (FIG. 3) to be properly placed such that the load is in the proper position on the wearer's back and only the shoulder straps contact the first tab 32 and or the second tab 33. This prevents the shoulder straps from contacting the top most part of the shoulders and thus bearing the weight through the respective tabs 30 and through the upright support member 15 downwardly to the user's hips. Adjustments to the shoulder straps do not change the shoulder strap position on the two upper tabs 30 above the shoulder. In this configuration, the upright support member 15 central upper edge 25 height is below the at least one tab 30. Generally the two upper tabs 30 are from 0.1 inches to about 3.0 inches above the adjacent central upper edge 25. In relation to the height of the upright support member 15, the ratio may be between 5-16% percent. The two upper tabs 30 may be vertical or curvilinear forward (FIG. 3) to conform to a wearer's shoulder contour. The tab end 31 on the two upper tabs 30 may be substantially flat and perpendicular to the upright support member, angled or shaped with features such as an indentation, concave, vee, one or more ribs, convex or undulating to retain the pack straps on the two upper tabs 30. Undulating is defined as having a forward curvature over the shoulder and a curvature of one or more sides similar to a wave. The difference in height between the two upper tabs 30 and the central upper edge 25 allows for the user to look up without contacting the central upper edge 25 of the upright support member 15. Also, for the optional embodiment shown, the upright support member 15 is be ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of the wearer's back.

In some embodiments, upright support member 15 may be attached to the belt 5 at mid-portion 20 in a manner that permits the upright support member 15 to rotate laterally with respect to the waist strap as a wearer might lean from side to side. The pivoting attachment 35 may be a single point such as a central pin or multiple points. In addition, some embodiments may have an upright support member 15 that further has at least one cushion 40 situated on a side facing the back or hips of the wearer, as shown in FIG. 2.

FIG. 2 also shows a carrier system 2 for use with a body armor vest 45. In this example, the carrier system 2 includes a vest 45 having a downwardly open support pocket 50 on the interior portion of the back of the vest 45 in relation to the user. The downwardly open support pocket 50 is larger than the upright support member 15 and slides over the two upper tabs 30 and the upright support member 15 until the two upper tabs 30 and/or the central upper edge 25 are fully engaged within the downwardly open support pocket 50 thereby removeably securing the vest 45 to the carrier apparatus 1. The central upper edge 25 and first tab 32 and second tab 33 may be adapted to the contour and shape of the closed end of the downwardly open support pocket 50. The downwardly open support pocket 50 may range in length from the full height of the vest 45 to a portion of the height of the vest 45. The downwardly open support pocket 50 may have features, such as receptacles, at the closed end to accommodate the two upper tabs 30.

Also shown in FIG. 2 is a vest 45 with a fabric outer coating where the vest 45 has at least one armor pouch 55 adapted to receive a ballistic armor insert 57. The armor pouch 55 may be closed at the bottom and closeably open at the top or closed at the top and be closeably open at the bottom, as in the case of waterborne personnel. The vest 45 also has a first shoulder strap 61 and a second shoulder strap 66. The vest 45 has at least one downwardly open support pocket 50, at least one flexible first side portion 60 connecting the vest front 47 with the vest rear 48, and at least one flexible second side 65 portion connecting the vest front 47 with the vest rear 48. The upright support member 15 has a central upper edge 25, and is adapted to engage with or be inserted into the downwardly open support pocket 50, at which point the central upper edge 25 of the upright support member 15 receives a load (FIG. 3) that would otherwise be borne solely by the shoulders of the wearer.

The load shown in FIG. 3 may be installed on the carrier apparatus 1 or the carrier and vest system 2 interchangeably.

Optionally, the upright support member 15 has the central upper edge 25 below the shoulder height approximately at the junction of the seventh cervical vertebrae and the first dorsal vertebrae and the two upper tabs 30 extending in a vertical direction above the height of the wearer's shoulders. The upright support member 15 may be ergonomically contoured to follow the contour of a wearer's back.

In some embodiments, upright support member 15 may be attached to the belt 5 in a manner that permits the support member to rotate laterally with respect to the belt 5. In addition, some embodiments may have an upright support member 15 that further comprises at least one cushion 40 situated on a side facing the back of the wearer.

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Thus, while the description above refers to particular embodiments, it will be understood that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit thereof.