CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
FIELD OF INVENTION
This application claims priority to, and the benefit of, U.S. Provisional Application serial No. 60/463,553, entitled “CARRYALL HITCH,” filed Apr. 17, 2003, which is incorporated herein by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention generally relates to devices for supporting an object near a user's torso, and more particularly, to devices that facilitate comfortable and effective support of items typically worn at chest level.
For a variety of reasons, individuals find it convenient to hang objects off the front of their chest. For example, cameras, binoculars, rangefinders, video equipment, optical devices, and music playing devices are often supported, i.e., hung, from a person's neck using a strap. In the example of binoculars, hanging the binoculars about the neck is useful for maintaining hands free access to the binoculars. Not only does such a system free-up the wearer's hands, it allows for quick access to the binoculars.
Unfortunately, hanging an object about the neck by a strap has some substantial drawbacks. For example, a user may experience sore muscles and headaches because the weight of the object is substantially supported by the neck. Furthermore, the hanging object is prone to swing when the wearer is moving. This can be annoying, distracting, and undesirable for many other reasons. Furthermore, the swinging movement may increase the probability that the object strikes something with sufficient force to cause damage. Moreover, the typical practice of hanging the object about the neck exposes the object to the elements as it hangs in an unprotected state.
Although various attempts have been made to reduce the undesirable side effects of hanging an object by a strap about the neck, a need remains for an improved method of carrying objects, in a hands-free, readily accessible manner near chest height. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,526,347 describes a harness for supporting binoculars on the wearer's chest. However, the harness is a simple one piece strap having ends connected to binoculars with the strap starting at one end of the binoculars, extending over the wearer's shoulders, diagonally traversing the wearer's back, wrapping around the stomach or chest area, again diagonally traversing the wearer's back, and extending over the wearer's other shoulder to connect again with the binoculars. Unfortunately, such a device, among other disadvantages, may allow the binoculars to sag downwardly during strenuous motion by the wearer. Also, the tightness of the strap across the front of the individual is dependent on the weight of the binoculars.
In another example, U.S. Pat. No. 5,016,797 describes a harness with a front horizontal strap that wraps from the front torso area around both sides to the wearer's back. The straps each diagonally traverse the wearer's back, loop over the wearer's shoulders, and then terminate in the front horizontal strap. The binoculars are shown attached to sliders on the vertical portion of the chest strap, such that the binoculars can be slid up to the wearer's face. Furthermore, sufficient slack is needed between the point of attachment and the binoculars to raise the binoculars to the face. Among other deficiencies, such a system is also susceptible to ‘sagging’ or ‘ridding up’, where the weight of the binoculars tends to cause the binoculars to pull the assembly down or rotate the assembly forward. The assembly further is undesirable because the binoculars slide up and down the straps on sliding swivel hooks, limiting the range of motion for use of the binoculars. Furthermore, the binoculars may continue to swing or move undesirably.
Furthermore, U.S. Pat. No. 2,643,803 describes a harness for carrying binoculars where the harness has a back strap secured to the wearer's waist. However, the binoculars are secured to “springs” which are in turn connected to the shoulder harness. Thus, among other undesirable properties, the binoculars are free to bounce against the wearer's chest as the wearer moves. In addition, if the springs have sufficient stiffness, use of the binoculars would be dissatisfying due to the constant pulling against the springs while using the binoculars.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Over the years, various other straps, purses, and pouches have been designed to hold objects such as cameras and binoculars. However, there nonetheless remains a need for a new device that may enhance the enjoyment and facilitate the use of an object that is hung near a wearer's chest.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention generally relates to systems and devices for hanging an object near a wearer's chest. In accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention, a hang and hold assembly is configured for securing an object, such as binoculars, to the torso of a person and near the person's chest. The assembly is configured to be attached to an article of clothing near the waist of the person. The hang and hold assembly may comprise a first strap and a second strap, each having a first end configured for attachment to, for example, the binoculars and configured to hang the binoculars near the person's chest. The first and second straps may be further configured to extend upwards, over the shoulders of the wearer, and down the back of the wearer to an attachment point near the wearer's waist. Furthermore, the first and second straps each have a second end configured to attach to an article of clothing near the waist of the person. The first and second straps may also form an X assembly between the shoulders and the point of attachment. In addition, the assembly comprises a third strap having a restraining assembly configured to hold the binoculars substantially immobile relative to the torso of the person.
A more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description and claims when considered in connection with the Figures, wherein like reference numbers refer to similar elements throughout the Figures, and:
FIG. 1 illustrates a front perspective of an exemplary hanging object restraint system;
FIG. 2 illustrates rear perspective of an exemplary hanging object restraint system;
FIG. 3 illustrates a close up view of a restrained hanging object and a portion of an exemplary hanging object restraint system;
FIGS. 4A and 4B illustrate various modes of a protective cover in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of a restraint system;
FIGS. 5A-5C illustrate various exemplary strap configurations in various exemplary devices for hanging and restraining an object; and
- DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 6 illustrates various exemplary devices for use in connection with a strap system for hanging and restraining an object.
While the exemplary embodiments herein are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, it should be understood that other embodiments may be realized and that mechanical changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Thus, the following detailed description is presented for purposes of illustration only and not of limitation.
In accordance with various aspects of the present invention strap systems are configured to both hang and restrain an object, such as binoculars. The strap systems may be configured to reduce the sway and bounce that is typically experienced when objects are supported by a strap worn about the neck.
With reference now to FIGS. 1-3, a hang and restrain system 100 is configured to suspend an object near a wearer's chest and to restrain that object from sagging, swinging, bouncing and/or the like. In accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, system 100 comprises three or more straps that, together, are configured to hang and restrain an object 130. Restraining the object comprises maintaining, for a period of time, object 130 in a substantially immobile position relative to the torso of the wearer of the object. Thus, the restraining of object 130 may substantially reduce bounce and swing that might otherwise exist in typical object supporting systems. In accordance with one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, object 130 may comprise binoculars (as illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 and 4B). However, object 130 may comprise other devices and/or equipment. For example, object 130 may be a camera, a video camera, a range finder, optical devices, digital devices, musical instruments, beverage containers, and/or other objects that may be usefully be worn near the chest. For simplicity, object 130 may herein be referred to as binoculars 130, but the invention is not so limited. As such, hang and restrain system 100, in one exemplary embodiment, may also be referred to as a binocular hitch
In accordance with an exemplary embodiment, hang and restrain system 100 comprises a first strap 101, a second strap 102, a third strap 103, and a restraint portion 180. In this exemplary embodiment, first strap 101 comprises a first end 111 that is configured for connection to object 130. Similarly, second strap 102 comprises a first end 112 that is configured for connection to object 130. Straps 101 and 102 are configured to extend up the chest of the wearer, over the shoulders of the wearer, and to extend down the back of the wearer. As illustrated in FIG. 2, in one exemplary embodiment, straps 101 and 102 are configured to cross over each other as they extend down the wearer's back. Thus, straps 101 and 102 may form an “X” configuration on the wearer's back.
Strap 101 further comprises a second end 121 that is configured for attachment near the waist of the wearer. Similarly, strap 102 further comprises a second end 122 that is configured for attachment near the waist of the wearer. For example, second ends 121 and 122 may be configured to attach to the waistband of the wearer's pants, to the wearer's belt, and/or the like. Although not shown, straps 101 and 102, in another exemplary embodiment, may form a “Y” configuration on the wearer's back For example, straps 101 and 102 may be configured to connect to each other at second ends 121 and 122, and to connect with yet another strap that in turn connects at the waistband of the wearer's pants. Thus, anchored at the back waist area and hanging from the shoulders of the wearer, object 130 is supported in a hands-free manner without strain on the neck. Furthermore, this configuration reduces the possibility of the hanging binoculars sagging or riding upon the abdomen of the wearer.
In accordance with another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, third strap 103 is configured to restrain object 130. For example, third strap 103 may be positioned on the wearer as a substantially horizontal strap. Third strap 103 comprises a first end 113 and a second end 123 that are configured for connection to, for example, restraint portion 180. When worn on a user, restraint portion 180 is worn near the chest, for example, where the binoculars would hang. Third strap 103 may be configured to connect to one end of restraint portion 180 and to wrap around the back of the wearer to attach to the other end of restraint portion 180.
With further attention to FIG. 3, restraint portion 180 may comprise any suitable systems for snugly holding object 130 against a wearer's chest or otherwise substantially immobile. In one exemplary embodiment, restraint portion 180 may comprise three straps 183. The straps 183 may, for example, be made of rubber, elastic, Lycra type material, a water proof material, and/or the like. In an exemplary embodiment, straps 183 are flexible and are attached at either end to a connection device 150. Connection device 150 may comprise a plastic, metal, or other suitable material. Connection device 150 may further be configured to receive straps 183 and to connect to third strap 103. In other words, straps 183 may be attached at their ends to brackets that are attached to first and second ends 113 and 123 of third strap 103. In one example, restraint portion 180 is configured to restrain object 130 when straps 183 are placed over object 130, e.g., pushing object 130 against the wearer's chest. In another example, object 130 is ‘woven’ between one or more of straps 183, for added stability. Furthermore, restraint portion 180 may comprise any device that is configured to restrain the movement of object 130 by holding object 130 against the chest, and/or by holding it within restraint portion 180.
Therefore, in accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention, binoculars 130 may be substantially restrained from movement, relative to the wearer's torso, via a combination of an upward force associated with straps 101 and 102 and an inward force (and/or squeezing force) associated with restraint portion 180. Strap 101 and strap 102 may provide the upward force, and that force may be substantially born by the shoulders and waist of the wearer. Thus, the wearer's neck may be relieved of the pressure, pulling, and rubbing of typical straps that hold objects like binoculars. In yet another exemplary embodiment, restraint portion 180 and strap 103 are integrated into a single strap 103 that is similarly configured to restrict movement of object 130.
Furthermore, in this exemplary embodiment, binoculars 130 hang on the chest substantially similar to how binoculars would hang if the binoculars were suspended by a strap about the wearer's neck Thus, in addition to relieving neck pressure and pain, rubbing, chafing, and/or the like, the binoculars may be easily accessible and convenient to use. Moreover, the connection of straps 101 and 102 at the wearer's waist, may reduce the ability of the binoculars to sag and/or ride upon the abdomen of the wearer. Thus, system 100 may reduce the need to frequently reposition the binoculars, and/or the system for holding the binoculars. Also, in one exemplary embodiment, restraint portion 180 is free floating. Thus, restraint portion 180 can be slid down, out of the way for fast and easy glassing, but is also configured to be tightened up if the user wants to run or crawl.
Straps 101 and 102 may be configured to connect directly or indirectly to object 130. For example, object 130 may have one or two points of attachment to which straps 101 and 102 may be attached. Straps 101 and 102 may be configured to be attached to object 130 at the respective ends 111 and 112. In another embodiment, straps 101 and 102 may be configured to form a continuous strap from which object 130 may be hung. In another exemplary embodiment, straps 101 and 102 are connected to an intermediate connection device such as a ring or other connection device. In further exemplary embodiments, object 130 maybe attached at a single point to straps 101 and 102.
Straps 101 and 102 are configured to have a sufficient length to allow slack enough to not impede the user when the device is in use. In one example, straps 101 and 102 are only under tension when object 130 is not in use (i.e., hanging on the user's chest). For example, straps 101 and 102 may have sufficient slack to facilitate raising object 130 to viewing level without tension.
The various connections and/or attachments described herein may be made using various suitable connection/attachment devices now known or hereinafter discovered. For example, and with reference to FIG. 6, ends 121 and 122 of straps 101 and 102 may be connected to a user's pants and/or belt with a heavy duty clip 602. However, other methods of connecting the ends of straps 101 and 102 may be used, such as using buttons, snaps, a loop through which a belt may pass, or tying the end of the strap around the belt or a belt buckle.
Ends 111 and 112 of straps 101 and 102, as well as ends 131 and 132 of strap 103 also may be configured with connection devices. In accordance with various exemplary embodiments of the present invention, these connection devices may comprise snap swivel devices 604. Snap swivel devices 604 may facilitate ease of use of the binoculars, rapid attachment and detachment of the binoculars, ease of putting on harness system 100, and/or reduction of binding in the straps. Thus, the strap may be configured to be able to rotate away from the face of a user when the device is brought up to the face for use. Furthermore, swiveling may reduce binding and help alleviate any tension in the strap.
In exemplary embodiments, heavy duty clip 602 and the snap swivel 604 may each be configured to receive a strap through a slot The strap can then be doubled back on itself and attached to itself In an exemplary embodiment, the strap is attached by sewing a hook and loop device to respective mating sides of the strap and pushing them together. In other embodiments, the straps can be attached to each other by sewing, riveting, etc. Furthermore, straps may be attached to snap swivels via other suitable methods.
In various exemplary embodiments of the present invention, straps 101, 102, and 103 may be one and a half inch straps or two inch straps. Although straps approximately two inches wide are suitable for distributing the weight evenly across the shoulder muscle mass without being so bulky as to reduce the ease of use, other straps sizes may suitably be used. Straps 101-103 may also be configured such that even when wearing a backpack, the binoculars can be raised to the eyes and such that the strap does not interfere with wearing a backpack. In one exemplary embodiment, straps 101-103 may be web straps. Furthermore, the straps may be made out of elastic, nylon, woven or knitted elastic and/or the like. In some exemplary embodiments, straps 101-103 may be elastic straps.
Straps 101-103 maybe configured to be any suitable length and, in one example, the straps are each configured to fit a modestly large body. The straps may further be configured with adjustment devices to shorten or lengthen the straps. Thus, straps 101-103 may be used on people of various sizes while still being able to maintain the binoculars at a desired height on the chest. As mentioned herein, straps 101 and 102 may be configured to have sufficient length to have a suitable amount of slack when the binoculars are raised to be used. In one embodiment, for example, straps 101 and 102 are each 41 inches long, and strap 103 is 40 inches long; however other lengths may be selected. For example, straps 101-103 may each be 46 inches long or other suitable lengths. Furthermore, restraining portion 180 may have various lengths including: 9, 9 ⅜, 10, 10⅜ inches, and other suitable lengths.
The hitch may be configured with a hook and loop adjustment sewn to the shoulder straps and back strap/chest strap that allow the user to easily adjust these straps to different sizes. Other adjustment devices and mechanisms are also contemplated. The length of straps 101-103 may be adjusted using strap slides 603 and/or adjusters 601, as illustrated, for example, in FIGS. 5A, 5B and 6. Furthermore, as illustrated in FIG. 5B, the length of straps 101-103 may be adjusted using hook and loop devices. In this exemplary embodiment, ends 511 and 512 are configured to have, for example, a hook section that is sewn to the end of the strap and a loop section is sewn to the strap at, for example, the locations designated 561. Thus, ends 511 and 512 can respectively be doubled back a suitable distance, and fixed at that distance via hook and loop devices, to adjust the length of the strap. With further reference to FIGS. 5A and 5C, straps 101, 102, and/or 103 may be connected where they cross each other using, for example, hook and loop devices at locations designated 590.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, restraint system 100 may further protect the restrained object against moisture, dirt, debris, impact, and/or the like. In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, and with reference to FIGS. 4A and 4B, restraint portion 180 comprises a protective cover 400. Restraint portion 180 may further comprise connection points 450. Protective cover 400 may comprise a stretchable material 410 such as Lycra, Spandex, and/or the like. Stretchable material 410 may further comprise any material that is water resistant. In addition, stretchable material 410 may be selected to provide padding, for example, to protect an enclosed object from impact. As illustrated in FIG. 4A, the stretchable material may be relatively short, when not employed to hold an object. Thus, no bulky holding object exists to interfere with the use of the object. As illustrated in FIG. 4B, in one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the enclosed object may be binoculars 430. Furthermore, stretchable material 410 may be form fitting to object 130.
Protective cover 400 may enclose an object using various techniques. For example, protective cover 400 comprises an elastic edge 420. Elastic edge 420 may be configured at the top and/or bottom of protective cover 400. Furthermore, elastic edge 420 may be configured in any suitable manner that causes protective cover 400 to cling to an enclosed object, wrap around the edges of an enclosed object, and/or the like. In accordance with an exemplary embodiment, elastic edge 420 is configured to wrap around the inlet and outlet objectives of binoculars 430.
Connection points 450 are configured to connect protective cover 400 to third strap 103. Connection points 450 may, for example comprise stamped metal, reinforced holes, buckles, snaps, and/or any suitable device for connecting protective cover 400 to third strap 103. As an example, connection point 450 may comprise D-rings or split rings. Furthermore, protective cover 400 may comprise nylon webbing 415, for example, located on the ends of protective cover 400. Nylon webbing 415 may be configured to provide support and/or strength in the connection between stretchable material 410 and connection points 450. Protective cover 400 is configured to, among other things, restrain and/or protect an enclosed object. This is accomplished, in part, due to the drawing force exerted in opposing directions at connection points 450. These opposing forces may be resisted in part by elastic edges 420 and in part by stretchable material 410. Thus, protective cover 400 is configured to hold and/or protect an enclosed object 430.
Thus, protective cover 400 may be configured to shield, protect, and/or minimize the effects of the environment on the enclosed object. However, protective cover 400 may continue to function to restrain the movement of the object that is suspended from the strap as described above. Furthermore, protective cover 400 and/or restraint device 180 may continue to facilitate rapid, simple, and/or quite access to the enclosed and/or restrained object.
Thus, in accordance with various advantageous aspects of the present invention, restraint system 100 may facilitate tripod use without unsnapping the optics from the hitch. Furthermore, system 100 may facilitate crossing fences, crawling, glassing, running and shooting without the object, e.g. binoculars, getting in the way yet while maintaining quick access to the object when desired The hitch may be used by archery, muzzleloader, and rifle hunters, videographers, photographers, bird watchers, parents with children, and/or the like.
It should be appreciated that the particular implementations shown and described herein are illustrative of the invention and its best mode and are not intended to otherwise limit the scope of the present invention in any way. Indeed, for the sake of brevity, conventional mechanical connection devices and manufacturing techniques (and components of the individual operating components of the systems) may not be described in detail herein. It should be noted that many alternative or additional functional relationships or physical connections might be present in a practical restraint systems.
In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments. However, it may be appreciated that various modifications and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The specification and figures are to be regarded in an illustrative manner, rather than a restrictive one, and all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given above.
Benefits, other advantages, and solutions to problems have been described above with regard to specific embodiments. However, the benefits, advantages, solutions to problems, and any element(s) that may cause any benefit, advantage, or solution to occur or become more pronounced are not to be construed as critical, required, or essential features or elements of any or all the claims. As used herein, the terms “comprises”, “comprising”, or any other variation thereof, are intended to cover a non-exclusive inclusion, such that a process, method, article, or apparatus that comprises a list of elements does not include only those elements but may include other elements not expressly listed or inherent to such process, method, article, or apparatus. Further, no element described herein is required for the practice of the invention unless expressly described as “essential” or “critical”.