Patent application title: Adjustable Shoulder Strap Attachment Assemblies
Jason Hairston (Dixon, CA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA45F308FI
Class name: Two attaching means crossing different shoulders including rigid or semirigid support structure framework
Publication date: 2016-04-21
Patent application number: 20160106199
An adjustable shoulder strap attachment assembly is disclosed, as are
methods for adjustably attaching shoulder straps to a backpack frame. The
backpack frame has a pair of generally vertically-oriented tracks. Each
strap has a cam-fastener with at least one dimension greater than the
width of one of the tracks. To secure a strap to the backpack frame, the
cam-fastener is inserted into the track and rotated into its use
position. A desired vertical position of the strap is selected, and the
strap is secured by using hook-and-loop fastener between the backpack
frame and the strap.
1. An adjustable strap and frame combination for a backpack, comprising:
a backpack frame having left and right generally vertically extending
tracks spaced from one another and an expanse of one part of
hook-and-loop fastener proximate to the tracks; and left and right
straps, each of the straps having a cam-fastener, the cam-fastener having
a projecting portion with at least one dimension greater than a width of
one of the tracks, such that the cam-fastener can be pivoted into
position to secure the cam-fastener slideably in one of the tracks, and
complementary hook-and-loop fastener positioned to engage the
hook-and-loop fastener of the backpack frame to fix the vertical position
of the strap.
2. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 1, wherein the cam-fastener is fixedly secured within each of the straps.
3. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 1, wherein the cam-fastener and the complementary hook-and-loop fastener are provided in an upper portion of each of the straps.
4. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 3, wherein the upper portions are padded.
5. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 3, wherein each of the straps further comprises a lower connecting portion connected to the upper portion.
6. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 5, wherein the lower connecting portion comprises webbing.
7. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 6, further comprising a waist belt adapted to be coupled to the backpack frame.
8. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 7, wherein the lower connecting portion of each strap is connected to the waist belt.
9. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 1, each cam-fastener further comprising a base and a neck or post connected between the base and the projecting portion; wherein the base secures the cam-fastener to one of the straps.
10. The adjustable strap and frame combination of claim 9, wherein the projecting portion of each cam-fastener comprises a bar with a length greater than the width of one of the tracks.
11. A method of adjustably securing backpack straps to a frame, comprising: engaging a cam-fastener connected to a strap in a generally vertically-extending track or slot of a backpack frame; if desired, sliding the engaged cam-fastener within the track or slot so that the strap reaches a desired vertical position within the track or slot; and securing the strap in the desired vertical position by attaching it using hook-and-loop fastener between the strap and the backpack frame.
12. The method of claim 11, further comprising attaching a lower portion of the strap to a waist belt.
13. The method of claim 12, further comprising connecting the waist belt to a lower portion of the backpack frame.
14. The method of claim 11, wherein said engaging comprises inserting the cam-fastener into the track or slot and rotating the cam-fastener relative to the track or slot such that the cam-fastener cannot be withdrawn from the track or slot.
15. The method of claim 14, wherein the cam-fastener has a projecting portion with at least one dimension greater than a width of the track or slot.
16. The method of claim 11, further comprising: releasing the hook-and-loop fastener between the strap and the backpack frame; repositioning the strap vertically by sliding the cam-fastener within the slot or track; and re-securing the strap by re-engaging the hook-and-loop fastener.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application is related to U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/183,767, filed Jul. 15, 2011; U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/549,289, filed Jul. 13, 2012; and U.S. application Ser. No. 13/856,594, filed Apr. 4, 2013. All of those applications are incorporated by reference in their entireties.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 In general, the invention relates to backpack frames, and to strap systems for backpack frames.
 2. Description of Related Art
 Shoulder straps are a key element in distributing the load of a backpack to its wearer. In day packs and smaller backpacks without a frame, the shoulder straps may be sewn directly to the backpack at fixed points, although these arrangements usually include buckles and fittings to change the length of the straps.
 Backpack frames help to support the load in a backpack and to distribute that load more evenly to the wear's body. Many frames include mechanisms by which shoulder straps can be attached at different heights and positions, in order to accommodate wearers of different builds. In a typical mechanism, a clip is attached to each end of each strap, and the frame provides multiple points to which each clip may be attached.
 A more continuously adjustable mechanism for attaching straps would be a help in allowing users of different body sizes to comfortably use a backpack and backpack frame.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 One aspect of the invention relates to an adjustable strap and frame combination for a backpack. The backpack frame has left and right generally vertically-extending tracks spaced from one another. An expanse of one part of hook-and-loop fastener is provided proximate to the tracks. Left and right straps attach to the backpack frame. Each of the straps includes a cam-fastener and complementary hook-and-loop fastener. The cam-fastener has a projecting portion with at least one dimension greater than a width of one of the tracks, such that the cam-fastener can be pivoted into position to secure the cam-fastener and its connected strap slideably in one of the tracks. The complementary hook-and-loop fastener of the straps is positioned to engage the hook-and-loop fastener of the backpack frame to fix the vertical position of the straps. In some embodiments, the straps include lower portions that connect with a waist belt. The waist belt is adapted to engage lower portions of the backpack frame.
 In embodiments according to this aspect of the invention, the cam-fastener typically includes a base and a post or neck connected between the base and the projecting portion. The projecting portion may, for example, be a bar with a length greater than a width of one of the tracks.
 Another aspect of the invention relates to a method of adjustably securing backpack straps to a frame. The method comprises engaging a cam-fastener connected to a strap in a generally vertically-extending track or slot of a backpack frame. The method also comprises sliding the engaged cam-fastener along the track so that the strap is in a desired vertical position, and securing the strap in the frame using hook-and-loop fastener.
 These and other aspects, features, and advantages of the invention will be set forth below in more detail.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES
 The invention will be described with respect to the following drawing figures, in which like numerals represent like elements throughout the figures, and in which:
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a backpack frame with waist belt and left and right strap assemblies;
 FIG. 2 is an elevational view of the backpack frame in isolation, illustrating the side of the frame that faces the strap assemblies;
 FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the backpack and frame assembly of FIG. 1;
 FIGS. 4 and 5 are respective sequential elevational views of the frame, illustrating the attachment of one of the strap assemblies;
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the other side of the frame, illustrating the attachment of one of the strap assemblies; and
 FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the frame, illustrating various vertical positions in which a strap assembly may be placed in connection with the frame.
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a backpack frame, generally indicated at 10, with two shoulder straps 12, 14 and a waist belt 16 installed, and FIG. 2 is an elevational view of the backpack frame 10 in isolation. The backpack frame 10 illustrated in these figures and others is one of the frames described in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2013/0221051, the entire contents of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety. This frame 10 is a unitary, resin-impregnated structure made of carbon fiber, although the general construction of the frame is not critical in all embodiments of the invention, so long as the frame in question has the basic features described here.
 Relevant to the process of attaching and adjusting the shoulder straps 12, 14, the frame 10 has two generally vertical tracks 18, 20 that are sloped slightly inwardly as they extend downwardly. The tracks 18, 20 are fully open and go through the thickness of the frame 10. These tracks 18, 20 provide adjustable points of connection to the frame 10 for the two shoulder straps 12, 14, as shown in FIG. 1.
 As shown in FIG. 1 and in the exploded perspective view of FIG. 3, each shoulder strap 12, 14 has a cam-fastener 22 sewn into it. The top of the cam-fastener 22 is a generally rectangular bar 24 that, when installed in each strap 12, 14 extends parallel to the width of the strap 12, 14. The bar 24 is also longer than the width of the tracks 18, 20. The rectangular bar 24 is connected at its center to a post or neck 26, which is, in turn, connected to a base 28. The base 28 of the cam-fastener 22 is at least about as wide as the bar 24 itself, and in the illustrated embodiment, is a round disc. In general, the cam-fastener 22 should be made of a lightweight but rigid material, such as ABS plastic [CORRECT?], such that it can sustain the loads carried by the backpack. In other embodiments, the projecting portion of the cam-fastener 22 need not be a bar 24; rather, any non-uniform shape with at least one dimension wider than the width of the tracks 18, 20. The size and area of the base 28 and rectangular bar 24 are sufficient to distribute the load somewhat so as to avoid causing failure of the stitching or other materials in the straps 12, 14 or a failure of the area around the tracks 18, 20. Typically, the base 28 is sewn or otherwise fixed into its strap 12, 14, for example, with adhesives.
 The process of connecting the straps 12, 14 to the frame 10 is illustrated in the sequential elevational views of FIGS. 4-5. To connect one of the straps 12, 14 to the frame 10, the user places the strap generally perpendicular to its use position, so that the length of the rectangular bar 24 is parallel with the track 18, 20, and inserts the bar 24 through the track 18, 20 before rotating the strap 12, 14 upright into its use position, as illustrated in FIG. 5. In the use position illustrated in FIG. 1, the rectangular bar 24 is perpendicular to the track 18, 20 so that it cannot pull out of the track 18, 20.
 FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the frame 10 and one strap 14, illustrating the opposite side of the frame 10. The cam-fastener 22 provides a sliding connection between the strap 12, 14 and the frame 10 and prevents pull out in the normal direction, i.e., the direction perpendicular to the frame. In order to keep the straps 12, 14 in a particular vertical position along the tracks 18, 20, the frame 10 and straps 12, 14 use complementary patches of hook-and-loop fastener. More specifically, each strap 12, 14 has a patch 30 of hook-and-loop fastener below the cam-fastener 22. A complementary expanse 32 of hook-and-loop fastener is provided in the center of the frame 10, below the tracks 18, 20 on the side of the frame 10 that faces the straps 12, 14. The present inventors have found that when fully engaged, hook-and-loop fastener has sufficient strength in shear to fix the position of the straps 12, 14 vertically. Moreover, by providing a relatively long swath of hook-and-loop fastener, the user can adjust the vertical position of the straps 12, 14 continuously, with each of the straps 12, 14 in contact with a portion of the hook-and-loop fastener 30, 32. Thus, as shown in the perspective view of FIG. 7, a single strap 14 can assume a variety of positions, labeled in FIG. 7 as A, B, and C.
 As those of skill in the art will note, the attachment mechanism described above attaches the upper padded shoulder and chest portion 34 of each strap 12, 14 to the frame 10. In order to function successfully as a strap, the straps 12, 14 must also be connected or coupled to the frame 10 at their respective lower edges as well. There are a number of potential ways of doing this. Because the lower portions of the straps 12, 14 are load-bearing but not necessarily body-contacting, they generally do not need to be padded along their entire lengths. For that reason, it is generally sufficient to connect the padded upper portion 34 of each strap 12, 14 to a piece of webbing to act as a lower portion. The webbing 36 (best seen in FIG. 1) may be, for example, 1 inch webbing. This connection may be by means of a buckle 38 sewn to the bottom of the upper portion 34 of each strap
 If no waist belt 16 is provided, the webbing 36 that serves as the lower portion of the strap 12, 14 may simply terminate by attaching to one of a number of small slots 40 that are provided in the frame 10, or to slots that are specifically provided for that purpose. However, in the illustrated embodiment, the webbing 36 that serves as the lower portion of the straps 12, 14 attaches and is sewn into the waist belt 16. As shown in the exploded view of FIG. 3, the waist belt 16 has a large pocket 42. The frame 10 of the illustrated embodiment terminates in a lower, rounded, generally U-shaped tongue 44, and the tongue 44 slips into the pocket 42. The buckle 38 can be used to lengthen or shorten the effective length of the webbing 36 to an appropriate length based on the selected vertical position of the upper portion 34 of the straps 12, 14, and any excess length can be tied off. Generally, the webbing 36 has a length in excess of the minimum required, to provide enough length to go through the buckle 38 and allow for adjustment.
 While the invention has been described with respect to certain embodiments, the embodiments are intended to be exemplary, rather than limiting. Modifications and changes may be made within the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.
Patent applications by Jason Hairston, Dixon, CA US
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