Title:
Scalable And Modular Protective Garment System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective garment system for a user including a cummerbund having a shoulder harness connected to a wraparound waist portion, and at least one connector device operatively attached to the cummerbund. The protective garment further includes one or more upper body modular protective elements and one or more lower body modular protective elements, with at least one of the lower body modular protective elements to the cummerbund by the connector device.



Inventors:
Reynolds, Rob (Wakefield, CA)
Beland, Rob (Pickering, CA)
Slobozianu, Magda (Ottawa, CA)
Application Number:
13/641728
Publication Date:
02/14/2013
Filing Date:
04/27/2010
Assignee:
ALLEN-VANGUARD CORPORATION (Ottawa, ON, CA)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A41D13/00; F41H1/02
View Patent Images:
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20100251466SELECTIVELY PERMEABLE CHEMICAL PROTECTIVE FILMS AND COMPOSITE FABRICSOctober, 2010Langley et al.
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20100319109Shock absorbing chin strap system method and apparatusDecember, 2010Field
20090044306Direct Molded Accents For Protective GlovesFebruary, 2009Lamson et al.
20110208104GARMENT SERVING TO COMBAT CELLULITE AND/OR VENOUS AND LYMPHATIC INSUFFICIENCYAugust, 2011Sellier
20150289578SECURING A WADER BELTOctober, 2015Davis



Foreign References:
WO2007127353A22007-11-08
Primary Examiner:
DAVIS, CAROLYN W
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kane Kessler P.C. (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A protective garment system for a user comprising a cummerbund having a shoulder harness connected to a wraparound waist portion, and at least one connector device operatively attached to said cummerbund; and, one or more upper body modular protective elements and one or more lower body modular protective elements; wherein at least one of said lower body modular protective elements is attached to said cummerbund by said connector device.

2. A protective garment system according to claim 1, wherein said or more upper body modular protective elements comprises a shoulder protector.

3. A protective garment system according to claim 2, wherein said shoulder protector comprises underarm ballistic flaps for securing said shoulder protector to the user.

4. A protective garment system according to claim 3, wherein said underarm ballistic flaps include an adjustable strap and buckle system and a complimentary strap and buckle system, such that said shoulder protector is adjustably positioned to accommodate the user and rest tautly against a vest worn by the user over said cummerbund.

5. (canceled)

6. (canceled)

7. A protective garment system according to claim 2, wherein said one or more modular protective elements further comprises arm protectors positioned over at least a portion of one or both of the user's arms, and wherein said arm protectors are connected to said shoulder protector; wherein said arm protectors are connected to said shoulder protector by emergency breakaway zippers positioned proximate each respective shoulder and an upper portion of said arm protectors.

8. (canceled)

9. (canceled)

10. (canceled)

11. A protective garment system according claim 5, further comprising a gusset proximate an underarm region of said arm protector to provide protection to the underarm region of the user.

12. A protective garment system according claim 1, wherein said arm protectors each comprise a sleeve formed from an upper arm protective portion and a lower arm protective portion and further comprising corresponding buckle elements formed on said upper and lower arm protective portions for connecting said upper arm protective portion to said lower arm protective portion.

13. (canceled)

14. (canceled)

15. (canceled)

16. (canceled)

17. (canceled)

18. (canceled)

19. (canceled)

20. A protective garment system according to claim 1, wherein said one or more lower body modular protective elements further comprises ballistic shorts; wherein said cummerbund includes an adjustable waist strap; said ballistic shorts further comprising belt loop portions; said adjustable waist strap adapted to hook into said belt loops on said ballistic shorts to keep said shorts secure at the waist of the user.

21. (canceled)

22. (canceled)

23. A protective garment system according to claim 1, wherein said one or more lower body modular protective elements further comprises a thigh protector; wherein said at least one connector device includes a connector extending at least partially around a waist portion of said cummerbund; said thigh protector further comprise a complimentary connector for attaching to said connector extending at least partially around said waist portion of said cummerbund.

24. (canceled)

25. (canceled)

26. (canceled)

27. (canceled)

28. (canceled)

29. A protective garment system according to claim 23, further comprising a knee protector connected to an underside of said thigh protector and a lower leg protector having one or more buckles, said thigh protector having one or more corresponding buckles for attaching said lower leg protector to said thigh protector.

30. (canceled)

31. (canceled)

32. (canceled)

33. (canceled)

34. (canceled)

35. A protective garment system according to claim 1, wherein said one or more upper body modular protective elements further includes a ballistic resistant body protective element covering at least a chest portion of the user.

36. (canceled)

37. (canceled)

38. A protective garment system according claim 35, wherein said body protective element comprises a chest protector plate having four buckle elements; said shoulder protector including two corresponding buckle elements on said to attach to two of said four buckle elements and said shoulder protector comprising two corresponding pectoral buckle elements, positioned proximate the pectoral region of the user, to attach to the remaining two of said four buckle elements.

39. (canceled)

40. A protective garment system according to claim 38, wherein said buckle elements on said ballistic flaps are adjustable; and, said pectoral buckle elements are fixed, such that in use, said chest protector is first buckled to said fixed buckle elements and subsequently to said adjustable buckle elements to ensure that the chest protector is taught against a torso region of the user.

41. (canceled)

42. A protective garment for a user comprising, in combination, a cummerbund having a shoulder harness, at least one connector device for attaching one or more lower body modular protective elements, and one or more upper body modular protective elements; wherein said one or more upper body modular protective element comprises: i. a shoulder protector; ii. arm protectors; and said one or more lower body modular protective elements comprises: iii. ballistic shorts; and, iv. a thigh protector.

43. A protective garment according to claim 42, further comprising lower leg protectors connected to said thigh protector and a blast chest plate connected in part to underarm flaps on said shoulder protector and in part to a pectoral region of said shoulder protector.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates to protective garments and suits, and in particular, to a modular protective garment system for protecting military, police and other emergency service personnel during active service.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Military personnel often work in hazardous environments and are frequently exposed to ballistic threats such as bullets and fragments from explosive devices such as bombs and roadside IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Personnel operating in these environments may be issued with a sleeveless protective jacket for wearing in combination with standard military uniform. The protective jacket comprises front and rear pockets each extending over the front and rear torso regions for receiving a ballistic resistant plate, typically composed of a composite of multiple layers of ballistic resistant fabric such as an aramid material and embedded epoxy resin which are heat pressed together. The front and rear protective plates assist in preventing bullets and fragments penetrating the thoracic cavity and damaging vital organs.

In more dangerous conditions, typically geared towards explosive device and bomb disposal applications, military personnel may be provided with bomb suits including full body protective armour. These suits typically require extensive dressing time and are have highly restricted mobility, due to their size, weight and bulkiness. Two-piece suits are also known in the art, for providing separate upper and lower body protection. There is a need in the art for a protective garment in the form of a bomb or tactical suit that provides for one or more of enhanced mobility, versatility, customization, and protection, among other factors.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention there is disclosed a protective garment system for a user including a cummerbund having a shoulder harness connected to a wraparound waist portion, and at least one connector device operatively attached to the cummerbund; and, one or more upper body modular protective elements and one or more lower body modular protective elements. Preferably, at least one of the lower body modular protective elements is attached to the cummerbund by the connector device.

According to one aspect of the first embodiment, the one or more upper body modular protective elements is a shoulder protector, and the at least one connector device extends from a region of the cummerbund proximate the user's upper chest region to interact with a corresponding connector on the shoulder protector. Preferably, the at least one connector device are defined by underarm ballistic flaps with an adjustable strap and buckle system and the corresponding connector includes a complimentary strap and buckle system, such that said shoulder protector is adjustably positioned to accommodate the user and rest tautly against a vest worn by the user over the cummerbund.

According to another aspect of the invention, the shoulder protector includes an integral collar

According to another embodiment of the invention, the one or more upper body modular protective elements are arm protectors positioned over at least a portion of the user's arms. Preferably, the arm protectors are connected to the shoulder protector, for example, by emergency breakaway zippers positioned proximate each respective shoulder on the shoulder protector and an upper portion of the arm protectors on the arm protectors.

According to one aspect of this embodiment, the arm protectors are arm-length arm protectors and include a bend at an elbow portion thereof. Preferably, the protector includes an inner portion formed from a flame, abrasion and tear resistant fabric, and an outer portion formed in part from a flame, abrasion and tear resistant plastic and in part from a flame, abrasion and tear resistant fabric and/or elastomer. The arm protector of this embodiment may further include a gusset proximate an underarm region of said arm protector to provide protection to the underarm region of the user.

According to another embodiment of the arm protector, the arm protector includes a sleeve formed from an upper arm protective portion and a lower arm protective portion. Preferably, breakaway zippers are positioned on an upper portion of the upper arm protective portion. According to one aspect of the invention, an opening device, such as a zipper, is provided extending along a length of the arm protectors to provide access to protective inserts, for example, to facilitate removal for laundering purposes.

According to another aspect of the invention, the lower arm protective portion is attached to a lower portion of the upper arm protective portion. Preferably, corresponding buckle elements are formed on the upper and lower arm protective portions for connecting the upper arm protective portion to the lower arm protective portion. Opening devices may be provided extending a length of the upper arm protective portion and the lower arm protective portion to facilitate placing the respective arm protective portions over the user's arms.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the one or more lower body modular protective elements further includes ballistic shorts. Preferably, the cummerbund includes an adjustable waist strap; the ballistic shorts further include belt loop portions, such that the waist straps are adapted to hook into the belt loops on the ballistic shorts to keep the shorts secure at the waist of the user. According to one aspect, the ballistic shorts include an elastic material along the outer thigh thereof.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the one one or more lower body modular protective elements further includes a thigh protector. Preferably, the at least one connector device on the cummerbund includes a connector extending at least partially around a waist portion of the cummerbund, and the thigh protector further include a complimentary connector for attaching to the connector extending at least partially around the waist portion of the cummerbund.

According to one aspect of this embodiment, the connector on the cummerbund is a zipper portion and the complimentary connector is a complimentary zipper portion. Preferably, the zipper portions extend substantially around the waist portion of the cummerbund. The thigh protector may further comprise an opening device, such as a zipper, on interior portions thereof.

Preferably, the thigh protector extend from the waist of the user to below the knees of the user. According to one aspect of this embodiment, the thigh protector further comprise a knee protector integral with the thigh protector. Preferably, the knee protector is formed from a ballistic resistant material.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the protective garment system further comprises a lower leg protector for one or both of the user's legs. Preferably, the lower leg protector is connected to a portion of the thigh protector proximate the knee protector. According to one aspect of this embodiment, the portion of the thigh protector proximate the knee protector is on an underside of the knee protector. The lower leg protector may include one or more buckles and the thigh protector may include one or more corresponding buckles for attaching the lower leg protector to the thigh protector. Preferably, the lower leg protector extends substantially over a knee region of the user and includes a protective plate covering the knee region comprising an impact resistant material.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the one or more upper body modular protective elements further includes a ballistic resistant body protective element, such as a blast chest plate for covering the chest and upper body portion of the user. The blast chest plate may further include a groin protective portion extending over the groin region of the user. According to another embodiment, a blast attenuation liner is positioned between the blast chest plate and the user.

According to one aspect of this embodiment, the chest blast plate includes two or more buckle elements, and at least one buckle element is provided on the shoulder protector. Preferably, the protector plate includes four buckle elements, the shoulder protector includes two corresponding ballistic flaps having two corresponding buckle elements to attach to two of the four buckle elements and the shoulder protector further includes two pectoral buckle elements to attach to the remaining two of the four buckle elements

Preferably, the buckle elements on the ballistic flaps are adjustable, and, the pectoral buckle elements on the shoulder protector are fixed, such that in use, the chest protector is first buckled to the fixed buckle elements and subsequently to the adjustable buckle elements to ensure that the chest protector is taught against a torso region of the user.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the at least one connective device on the cummerbund may include one or more protective devices selected from the group consisting of straps, buckles, underarm flaps, straps extending from an underarm flap, buckles extending from an underarm flap and zippers. Similarly, at least one connective device on the shoulder protector may include one or more protective devices selected from the group consisting of straps, buckles, underarm flaps, straps extending from an underarm flap, buckles extending from an underarm flap and zippers.

According to another embodiment of the invention, a protective garment is disclosed, that includes, in combination, a cummerbund having a shoulder harness, and at least one connector device for attaching a plurality of modular protective elements to the cummerbund; wherein the plurality of modular protective elements comprises ballistic shorts, and, a thigh protector.

According to one aspect of this embodiment, the protective garment further includes lower leg protectors connected to the thigh protector and a blast chest plate connected in part to the to the shoulder protector and in part to the underarm flaps of the shoulder protector.

Other advantages, features and characteristics of the present invention, as well as methods of operation and functions of the related elements of the structure, and the combination of parts and economies of manufacture, will become more apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description and the appended claims with reference to the accompanying drawings, the latter of which is briefly described hereinbelow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the according to the present invention, as to its structure, organization, use and method of operation, together with further objectives and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following drawings in which a presently preferred embodiment of the invention will now be illustrated by way of example. It is expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration and description only, and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention. In the accompanying drawings:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a representative cummerbund according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the cummerbund of FIG. 1 on a user;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a representative protective vest for use with the invention;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the cummerbund of FIG. 1 and the vest of FIG. 3 on a user;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a representative shoulder protector according to the invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the shoulder protector of FIG. 5 as worn by a user;

FIG. 7 is a detail view as marked in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8A is a perspective view showing the invention with representative single piece arm protectors;

FIG. 8B is a perspective view showing the invention with representative two piece arm protectors;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of representative protective shorts according to the invention;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a user donning the protective shorts of FIG. 9;

FIG. 11a is a perspective view of representative modular protective elements according to the invention;

FIG. 11b is a perspective view of the modular protective elements of FIG. 11a on a user;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of representative lower leg protectors according to the invention;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a user donning the lower leg protectors according to the invention;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a user donning a representative chest plate according to the invention;

FIG. 15 is a detail view as marked in FIG. 8A;

FIG. 16 is a detail view as marked in FIG. 8B;

FIG. 17 is a detail view as marked in FIG. 13;

FIG. 18 is a front view of another embodiment of the invention; and,

FIG. 19 is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 18.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention discloses a protective garment system, such as a bomb suit or a tactical personnel protection system, designed to protect against a variety of threats posed by, for example, explosive hazards, gunfire, fragments from explosions, and other operational hazards that occur during the course of military, police and other emergency service personnel missions. Unlike prior art systems, the protective garment system of the present invention provides a modular protective system that is readily alterable and adaptable to providing a suitable level of protection and mobility based on anticipated threats and operational requirements in particular mission environments. The modular system of this invention allows the protective garment to be worn in numerous configurations in order to address the requirements of the operating environment and the specific tasks that will be carried out by the user. For clarity, the term protective garment, and protective garment system are used throughout the description interchangeable, and it will be understood that these terms apply equally to a bomb suit, emergency suit, and tactical suit and other protective garments that may be used depending on a class of mission in which the suit is used, but generally refer to the garment of the present invention and may be referred to interchangeably.

Accordingly, it will be apparent to a person skilled in the art that the various components and upper and lower body modular protective elements of the protective garment described below may be worn in any combination to provide a protective garment for particular operational requirements. Each of the modular protective elements protecting the lower body may be attached to a base cummerbund (described further below), or to each other to ultimately form the protective garment used Modular protective elements protecting the upper body may be attached to a shoulder protector, described in further detail below.

The modular protective elements described below may be formed from any number of materials, including fabrics such as Aramid, ballistic resistant plastics, impact resistant materials and similar materials, such as Kevlar, and any combinations thereof that allow for one or more flame, abrasion and ballistic resistance. Furthermore, durable ultra-violet resistant elastomeric rubber panels providing increased grip and wear resistance may be incorporated into areas of the modular protective elements. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that these material descriptors are to aid in the understanding and description of the invention, but the invention is not limited to such materials. Various other materials providing protective varying degrees of protection may be incorporated into any and all portions of the modular protective elements of the invention.

Referring now to FIG. 13, there is shown a representative protective garment system 10 for a user 5, such as military, police or other emergency services personnel. Shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the protective garment system 10 has a base cummerbund 12 having a shoulder harness 14 and at least one connector device for connecting one or more modular protective elements to the cummerbund 12. Various embodiments of the at least one connector device and the modular protective elements are described in further detail below. The cummerbund 12 is preferably adaptable to be worn over existing uniform or clothing such that the protective garment system may be donned on short notice, in a quick and efficient manner. Preferably, the cummerbund 12 is back-supportive, and in combination with the shoulder harness 14 is designed to provide support and decrease the stress placed on stabilizer muscles of the back, thereby allowing for better posture and carrying of the protective garment. This is especially critical where the protective garment system 10 includes a number of protective elements increasing the weight of the protective garment system 10 substantially. Furthermore, any tools, weaponry or other accessories that may be attached to the protective garment system 10 may be added while minimizing the load borne by the user's shoulders. Typical prior art bomb suits and protective garments placed substantial loads on the user's shoulders. The base cummerbund 12 according to the invention allows for the distribution of some weight, usually carried by the shoulders, to the user's hips. The invention is not limited to the embodiment of the cummerbund 12 shown, as will be understood by those skilled in the art that any cummerbund 12 having a waist supportive portion 16, connector devices 18 and the shoulder harness 14, and variations thereof providing the same functionality is within the scope of the invention. A protective vest 30 (shown in FIG. 3) may be worn over the cummerbund 12 (as shown in FIG. 4), and is optionally, independent of the protective garment system of the invention. That is, standard protective vests 30 as are known in the art, may be worn over the cummerbund 12, and may be user supplied. While not illustrated in this manner, in use, it will be understood that the protective vest 30 extends over the cummerbund 12. However, for the purposes of illustrating the invention, the portion of vest 30 extending over the cummerbund 12 has been removed. FIGS. 18 and 19 show a fully illustrated embodiment where the vest extends over the cummerbund (a further description of these Figures is below).

The cummerbund 12 may include a number of connector devices extending from various portions of the cummerbund 12. Referring now to FIG. 1, the cummerbund 12 is shown to include lower connector devices 18 that may, for example, include straps, buckles, hook and loop fasteners, and as illustrated, a zipper, and similar connector devices as would be known to a person of ordinary skill in the art. Additional wrap-around connector devices 18 may also be provided at the waist portion 16 of the cummerbund. The cummerbund 12 preferably further includes an adjustable waist strap having lower connector devices 18 extending therefrom. Additional upper connector devices (not shown) may be include for attachment of additional protective elements. These may be fixed or adjustable in nature.

Referring now to FIGS. 5 to 7, according to one embodiment of the invention, one of the upper body modular protective elements is a shoulder protector 50. The shoulder protector 50 is shaped and otherwise dimensioned to provide protection to the upper chest and neck regions of the user. In one aspect of the invention, the shoulder protector further includes attachment points 52 for additional protective elements providing protection to the upper and lower arms of the user, these are described in further detail below. The shoulder protector 50 preferably further includes an integral collar portion 54 for providing additional protection to the shoulder region of the user. The integral collar portion 54 may further include additional shoulder plates 56 formed from a hard plastics material.

In order to don the shoulder protector 50, the shoulder protector 50 includes a connector, preferably in the form of a complimentary strap and buckle system 58 formed on underarm ballistic flaps, such that the shoulder protector 50 may be adjustably positioned to accommodate the user and rest tautly against the vest 30 worn by the user over the cummerbund 12. In use, the user would connect the corresponding buckle and strap 58, 60 underneath each of the underarm regions, respectively and pull the straps 58 away from the body to thereby ensure the shoulder protector 50 is firmly, and properly positioned.

With reference now to FIGS. 8A and 8B, according to one aspect of the invention, the one or more upper body modular protective elements of the protective garment system 10 may further include arm protectors 80 positioned over at least a portion of the user's arms. The preferred embodiments of the invention include both a single piece arm protector 80, shown in FIG. 8A, and a two piece arm protector 80a/80b, show in FIG. 8B.

The single piece arm protector 80 is preferably connected to the shoulder protector 50, by means of a quick-release type connector 150 having one portion on the shoulder protector 50 and another portion on an upper portion 82 of the arm protector 80. The quick-release type connector may, for example, be an emergency tear away zipper 150. Thus, a user may doff the arm protectors 80 quickly and efficiently, and in extreme situations, where it is preferably to doff the arm protectors 80 under stressed situations, they may be quickly removed. The arm protector 80 of this embodiment is preferably full arm-length and includes a bend 84 to approximate the natural bend of a user's arm. Preferably, the arm protector 80 includes an inner portion 86 formed from a flame, abrasion and tear resistant fabric and an outer portion 88 formed from a flame, abrasion and tear resistant plastics material. In this manner, the generally exposed portions of the arm are provided with a higher degree of protection, while the inner portions of the user's arm are provided with a material and elements designed to increase mobility, while still providing a high degree of protection. The arm protector 80 preferably further includes an opening device extending along a length of the arm protector 80 for removal of protective inserts for laundering of outer shell 80. In an exemplary embodiment, the opening device includes a zipper 805 extending the length of the arm, and preferably positioned at an interface of the aforementioned plastics and fabric material. Preferably, the zipper 805 is hidden, and completely covered during use.

The arm protector 80 preferably further includes an integral gusset 807 formed on an inner portion of the arm 88, proximate the underarm region of the arm protector. The gusset 807 provides additional protection to the underarm region of the user and substantially ensures eliminates any gaps in protection between the arm protector 80 and the vest 30 worn by the user. The arm protector may further include integral pockets for accommodating various tools and accessories.

In another embodiment of an arm protector shown in FIG. 8B, a two-piece arm protector 80a,80b is provided including a sleeve formed from an upper arm protective portion 80a and a lower arm protective portion 80b. The upper arm protective portion 80a is preferably connected to the shoulder protector 50 in a manner similar to that described above with respect to the single piece arm protector 80. That is, the upper arm protective portion 80a and the shoulder protector 50 are preferably provided with corresponding portions of emergency breakaway zippers for quick removal of the arm protector 80a. An opening device, and materials as described above with respect to the single piece arm protector 80 may be used on one or both of the upper arm protective portion 80a and the lower arm protective portion 80b. Preferably, the lower arm protective portion 80b is attached to the upper arm protective portion 80a. In the illustrated and preferred embodiment, the detail of which is shown in FIG. 16, corresponding buckle elements 820, 830 are formed on the upper and lower arm protective portions 80a and 80b, respectively. Preferably, the buckle elements 820, 830 are located in the elbow region, proximate the interface between the upper arm protective portion 80a and the lower arm protective portion 80b and are concealed during use.

Either of the two variations of arm protectors described above may further include additional armored components, such as elbow plates 840, forearm armor 850, and any other additional protection as would be apparent to one skilled in the art. As will become apparent to one skilled in the art from the above description, the ability to quickly don or doff the entire arm protector, or portions of the arm protector in the two piece embodiment is beneficial in cases where mission and combat situations vary rapidly, or when transferring from situations where maximum protection is required to those where high mobility is required in a short timeframe.

According to another embodiment of the present invention, that may not be mutually exclusive to the above described embodiments, the one or more modular protective elements further includes ballistic shorts 90. Representative ballistic shorts are shown in FIGS. 9 and 10, and may be used alone, or in combination with one or more of the shoulder protector 50 and the arm protectors 80 described above. The ballistic shorts 90 preferably include belt loop portions 92 adapted to hook onto, or be hooked onto, the adjustable waist strap 16 of the cummerbund 12 to keep the shorts secure at the user's waist. In the preferred embodiment, there are two loops positioned at respective side portions of the waist and a third loop positioned at a back portion of the waist. The ballistic shorts 90 are preferably formed in part, from an elastic material at portions that overlap otherwise protected portions of the protective garment. For example, the outside thigh portion 94 of the ballistic shorts may be formed from an elastic material.

According to another aspect of the invention, the one or more modular protective elements may further include thigh protector 100. In a preferred embodiment, the thigh protector is in the form of protective chaps. Preferably, the thigh protector 100 extend from the waist region of the user to a region proximate the knee of the user, and more preferably, to a region slightly below the knee of the user. The thigh protector 100 further include a connector 105 complimentary to the wrap-around connector device 18 formed on the cummerbund 12. In this manner, the thigh protector 100 is substantially supported and connected around the entire waist region of the user. In the preferred embodiment, the wrap-around connector device 18 on the cummerbund 12 forms one half of a zipper and the complimentary connector 105 on the thigh protector 100 forms the other half of the zipper, extending substantially around the entire waist portion of the thigh protector 100 and the cummerbund 12. The aforementioned zipper is preferably an emergency breakaway zipper to facilitate quick removal of the thigh protector. The thigh protector 100 may further include an opening means (not shown) on an interior portion 110 thereof, for example, zippers on inside thigh portions of the user to facilitate donning and doffing of the thigh protector 100. The thigh protector 100 preferably further includes integral knee protectors 112 covering substantially all of the user's knee region. The knee protectors 112 may be formed from a ballistic resistant material and provide additional protection to the user's knees, and are preferably made integral with the thigh protector by being sewn into a pocket in the thigh protector.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the protective garment 10 further includes lower leg protectors 120 (shown in FIG. 12) connected to a portion of the thigh protector 100 proximate the knee protector 112, or proximate a region of the user's knees. The lower leg protector 120 provides protection for the shin region of the user and is provided separately from the thigh protector 100 to provide for increased mobility in the protective garment. According to the preferred embodiment, buckles 125, or similar connecting means, are provided on the lower leg protectors 120 and one or more corresponding straps or buckles 108 are provided on the thigh protector 100 proximate an underside 114 of the knee protector 112 for attaching the lower leg protectors 120 to the thigh protector 100 (see FIG. 18). It will be apparent to one skilled in the art that one or two lower leg protectors may be used at any particular time.

According to another embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 14, a ballistic resistant body protective element 140 is also provided. The ballistic resistant body protective element 140 is preferably in the form of a blast chest plate 140, as illustrated, and is a modular protective element that would be used for example, in demining applications of the protective garment system. In other applications, such as for explosive ordinance disposal, an additional protective element in the form of a blast attenuation layer may be included between the chest protector and the user's chest; that is when the protective garment is to be used as bomb suit. The blast chest plate 140 preferably covers substantially an entire portion of the upper body region of the user. The chest plate 140 preferably includes two or more buckle elements 142 positioned, sized and otherwise dimensioned to correspond with the buckle elements or straps 52 on the shoulder protector 50. Preferably, there are four buckle elements 52a-d or straps on the shoulder protector, two of which are extension of, or are otherwise connected to ballistic flaps 55 and two of which are on the shoulder protector proximate the pectoral region. In a preferred embodiment, the buckle elements 52c, 52d on the shoulder protector 50 that attach to the ballistic flaps 55 are adjustable, and the pectoral buckle elements 52a and 52b are fixed, such that in use, the chest protector 140 is first buckled to the fixed pectoral buckle elements 52a, 52b and subsequently to the adjustable buckle elements 52c, 52d, after which the user would pull the adjustment strap 53 away from the body to thereby tighten the adjustable buckle elements 52, 52d, and thus ensure that the chest protector 140 is taught against a torso region of the user. While only one adjustment strap 53 is shown in FIG. 14, it will be apparent that a corresponding adjustment strap 53 is positioned on the other side of the user.

The invention further relates to a kit for forming a protective garment or bomb suit, including, at least a cummerbund as described hereinabove and one or more of the additional modular protective elements.

It will be appreciated by one skilled in the art that the invention provides for a fully scalable and modular protective garment system, whereby the specific protective elements may be adaptable, redesigned, or otherwise alternated depending on specific mission requirements. In this regard, FIGS. 18 and 19 show an alternative embodiment of the invention whereby the protective elements are designed for substantially more dangerous situations. The embodiment shown in FIGS. 18 and 19 includes a base cummerbund (not visible), shoulder protector 500, arm protectors 800, ballistic shorts 550, thigh protectors 600, chest plate 575 and lower leg protectors 650. Various attachment points for tools and other accessories are shown on the suit of FIGS. 18 and 19. Furthermore, pull straps 630 are shown, by which the chest plate 575 is tightened against the user, as described earlier. Chest plate 575 further includes a groin protective region 580 that may for formed unitary with the chest plate 575, or provided as an add-on portion. FIG. 19 shows the blast attenuation liner 578 positioned between the chest plate 575 and the user. FIG. 19 further shows the two piece arm protector having upper and lower protective portions 800a, 800b. As illustrated, the lower protective portion 800b extends over the elbow of the user to provide added protection when the arm is bent. It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the connective elements and assembly of protective elements as shown in FIGS. 18 and 19 is substantially as has been previously described and reference is made to the earlier description for describing the assembly, connectivity, and general arrangements of the protective elements, different embodiments of which are shown in FIGS. 18 and 19.

Other modifications and alterations may be used in the design and manufacture of other embodiments according to the present invention without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, which is limited only by the accompanying claims.