Auxiliary Gear Attachment System and Method

Abstract

Outerwear in the form of a wearable personal device can be customized to accept auxiliary gear using a quick attach/detach system that provides for minimal alteration to the aesthetics of the auxiliary gear and the wearable personal device. The system of the present invention can be offered in varied sizes and shapes to accommodate not only dimensional requests, but capacity of auxiliary equipment. In one embodiment, the system of the present invention can be employed with a webbing system previously attached to the wearable personal device. The present invention can include a replaceable female buckle designed to mate with to corresponding male buckles placed on any of a variety of auxiliary equipment items, thereby facilitating quick and simple attachment and detachment of the auxiliary equipment.

Claims

1 . A system for auxiliary gear attachment, comprising: a wearable personal device; and at least one female buckle member attached to the wearable personal device, wherein the at least one female buckle member comprises: a receiving end; a second end; a multi-axially hollow body portion connecting the receiving end to the second end, the body portion comprising a top section having a longitudinal axis, a bottom section, a first left-side wall, a second left-side wall, a first right-side wall and a second right side wall, and wherein the first left-side wall, the first right-side wall, the top section and the bottom section form an opening extending through the receiving end of the body portion substantially along the longitudinal axis of the top section, and wherein the first left-side wall, the second left-side wall, the top section and the bottom section form an opening extending through the body portion substantially transverse to the longitudinal axis of the top section. 2 . The system of claim 1 wherein the bottom section of the body portion of the at least one female buckle member comprises a first retention arm extending from the first left-side wall and a second retention arm extending from the first right-side wall, wherein the first retention arm and the second retention arm are substantially rhomboid-shaped. 3 . The system of claim 2 , wherein the first and second retention arms have a length, and wherein the length of the second retention arm is greater than the length of the first retention arm. 4 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the second end is a butt end comprising: a left butt end retention arm extending from the second left-side wall and a right butt end retention arm extending from the second right-side wall, wherein the left butt end retention arm and the right butt end retention arm are substantially rhomboid-shaped. 5 . The system of claim 4 , wherein the left and right butt end retention arms each have a length, and wherein the length of the left butt end retention arm is greater than the length of the right butt end retention arm. 6 . The system of claim 1 wherein the bottom section of the body portion of the at least one female buckle member comprises a first retention arm extending from the first left-side wall and a second retention arm extending from the first right-side wall, wherein the first retention arm and the second retention arm are substantially rhomboid-shaped, wherein the first and second retention arms have a length, and wherein the length of the second retention arm is greater than the length of the first retention arm; and wherein the second end is a butt end comprising a left butt end retention arm extending from the second left-side wall and a right butt end retention arm extending from the second right-side wall, wherein the left butt end retention arm and the right butt end retention arm are substantially rhomboid-shaped, and wherein the left and right butt end retention arms each have a length, and wherein the length of the left butt end retention arm is greater than the length of the right butt end retention arm, such that the longer second retention arm is opposite from the longer left butt end retention arm. 7 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the second end is a second receiving end and wherein the body portion further includes a third left-side wall and a third right-side wall, and further wherein the third left-side wall, the third right-side wall, the top section and the bottom section form an opening extending through the second receiving end of the body portion substantially along the longitudinal axis of the top section. 8 . The system of claim 7 , wherein the bottom section of the body member further comprises a third retention arm extending from the third left-side wall and a fourth retention arm extending from the third right-side wall, wherein the third retention arm and the fourth retention arm are to substantially rhomboid-shaped and extend toward one another. 9 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the wearable personal device includes a vertical strap capable of sliding engagement with the second end of the at least one female buckle member. 10 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the wearable personal device includes two or more vertical straps capable of sliding engagement with the second end of the at least one female buckle member. 11 . The system of claim 1 further including at least one auxiliary equipment item having at least one male buckle member insertable through the opening extending through the receiving end of the at least one female buckle member and engageable with the first left-side wall and first right-side wall of the at least one female buckle member. 12 . The system of claim 11 including two or more female buckle members and wherein the at least one auxiliary equipment item includes two or more male buckle members. 13 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the at least one female buckle member is detachable from the wearable personal device. 14 . The system of claim 1 , wherein the at least one female buckle member includes first and second female buckle members secured to the wearable personal device in reverse orientation from each other such that the receiving end of the first female buckle member is adjacent the second end of the second female buckle member and the receiving end of the second female buckle member is adjacent the second end of the first female buckle member. 15 . A method of attaching auxiliary gear to a wearable personal device, comprising: attaching at least one female buckle member to a wearable personal device, wherein the at least one female buckle member comprises: a receiving end; a second end; a multi-axially hollow body portion connecting the receiving end to the second end, the body portion comprising a top section having a longitudinal axis, a bottom section, a first left-side wall, a second left-side wall, a first right-side wall and a second right side wall, and wherein the first left-side wall, the first right-side wall, the top section and the bottom section form an opening extending through the receiving end of the body portion substantially along the longitudinal axis of the top section, and wherein the first left-side wall, the second left-side wall, the top section and the bottom section form an opening extending through the body portion substantially transverse to the longitudinal axis of the top section; attaching at least one male buckle member to an auxiliary equipment item; and inserting the male buckle member into the receiving end of the female buckle. 16 . The method of claim 15 , wherein the step of attaching the at least one female buckle member to the wearable personal device comprises inserting a strap into the second end of the at least one female buckle member. 17 . The method of claim 15 , wherein the step of attaching the at least one female buckle member to the wearable personal device comprises providing hook and loop fastener strips on the at least one female buckle member and the wearable personal device. 18 . The method of claim 15 , wherein the step of attaching at least one female buckle member to a wearable personal device includes attaching first and second female buckle members to the wearable personal device in reverse orientation from each other such that the receiving end of the first female buckle member is adjacent the second end of the second female buckle member and the receiving end of the second female buckle member is adjacent the second end of the first female buckle member.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS [0001] The present application claims the priority benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 61/366,405 entitled “Auxiliary Gear Attachment System and Method,” filed Jul. 21, 2010, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein in its entirety. FIELD OF THE INVENTION [0002] The present invention relates to outerwear, and more particularly to customizable outerwear that can adapt to accept auxiliary gear in various ways. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0003] Military personnel, law enforcement personnel and/or outdoor enthusiasts all share a need to be able to quickly attach and detach peripheral equipment. For military personnel, the peripheral equipment can be, for example, a chest rig, ammunition pouch, medical bag, day pack, hydration pack or armor shield. Similarly, recreationists such as backpackers, campers, hikers, hunters and others share the same need, whether the auxiliary gear is a tent, food, equipment or other gear. To date, no system allows these individuals to meet this need without having to modify something, such as their current routine or posture. The present invention permits the individual with a wearable personal device to add carrying capacity without compromising space requirements and while maintaining his or her sitting posture, rucksack inventory or uniform appearance, for example. [0004] The present invention provides a quick attach/detach system that provides for minimal alteration to the aesthetics of the auxiliary equipment and the wearable personal device, which can be an armor carrier, backpack system or other outerwear, for example. The system of the present invention can be offered in varied sizes and shapes to accommodate not only dimensional requests, but capacity of auxiliary equipment. In one embodiment, the system of the present invention can be employed, for example, with a webbing system previously attached to the wearable personal device. The present invention can include, for example, a replaceable “female” buckle designed to mate with corresponding “male” buckles placed on any of a variety of auxiliary equipment items, thereby facilitating quick and simple attachment and detachment of the auxiliary equipment. BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS [0005] FIG. 1 is a front view of a portion of a mannequin outfitted with a personal vest and attachment system according to one embodiment of the present invention. [0006] FIG. 2 is a front view of elements shown in FIG. 1 . [0007] FIG. 3 is a front view of a portion of a mannequin outfitted with a personal vest and attachment system according to one embodiment of the present invention, and further including a chest rig attached to the attachment system. [0008] FIG. 4 is a top view of a clip attachment according to one embodiment of the present invention. [0009] FIG. 5 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to one embodiment of the present invention, with a portion of a strap partially inserted into a bottom slot of the clip. [0010] FIG. 6 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to one embodiment of the present invention, with a portion of a strap fully inserted into a bottom slot of the clip. [0011] FIG. 7 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to one embodiment of the present invention, with a portion of a strap partially inserted into a top slot of the clip, and a portion of the strap fully inserted into a bottom slot of the clip. [0012] FIG. 8 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to one embodiment of the present invention, with a portion of a strap partially fully inserted into top and bottom slots of the clip. [0013] FIG. 9 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to FIG. 8 of the present invention, with a male end counterpart member shown detached from the clip. [0014] FIG. 10 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to FIG. 8 of the present invention, with a male end counterpart member shown partially inserted into the clip. [0015] FIG. 11 is a top front right perspective view of a clip according to FIG. 8 of the present invention, with a male end counterpart member shown attached to the clip. [0016] FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a dual-female clip in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. [0017] FIG. 13 is a top front right perspective view of two single clips in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, wherein the respective receiving ends of each clip are at opposite ends from one another. [0018] FIG. 14 is a front view of a portion of a personal wearable device incorporating the two-single clip arrangement of the present invention as shown in FIG. 13 . [0019] FIG. 15 is a front view of a portion of a personal wearable device incorporating the dual-female clip embodiment of the present invention as illustrated in FIG. 12 . DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE PRESENT INVENTION [0020] FIGS. 1 through 15 depict different embodiment of the present invention. As shown in FIG. 1 , the present invention can be used with a vest 15 and similar wearable personal devices. Vests come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of optional accessories such as molle panels 17 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 , for example. The attachment system of the present invention can comprise one or more female clips (also referred to as female buckles) 20 secured to a vest strap by means of slots 33 and 35 on each clip or other means. Other means can include hook and loop, sewing, bonding or otherwise integrating the attachment system with the personal device. [0021] In one embodiment of the present invention, the clips are manufactured by molding plastic material into the desired form for use in accordance with the present invention, and can be purchased from manufacturers such as ITW Nexus N.A. of Des Plaines, Ill., or National Molding, LLC of Miami Lakes, Fla. [0022] As shown in FIG. 4 , one embodiment of the clip 20 can include a receiving end 21 and a butt end 23 separated by a body portion 25 , with the body portion 25 being hollowed out so as to allow the receiving end 21 to have an opening 22 for receiving a corresponding male clip (also referred to as a male buckle) member 50 , as shown in FIGS. 9 through 11 . The multi-axially hollow body portion 25 comprises a top section 102 having a longitudinal axis A-A, a bottom section 103 , a first left-side wall 104 , a second left-side wall 105 , a first right-side wall 106 , and a second right-side wall 107 . The first left-side wall 104 , the first right side wall 106 , the top section 102 and the bottom section 103 form the opening 22 extending through the receiving end 21 of the body portion 25 and substantially along the longitudinal axis A-A of the top section. The first left-side wall 104 , the second left-side wall 105 , the top section 102 , and the bottom section 103 , form an opening 30 extending through the body portion 25 substantially transverse to the longitudinal axis A-A of the top section. This opening 30 runs substantially along the axis B-B of the top section 102 . The first right-side wall 106 , the second right-side wall 107 , the top section 102 and the bottom section 103 , form the right side boundaries of opening 30 on the right side of the body portion 25 . The body portion is designed with opening 30 to accommodate the male clip member, as further described in connection with FIGS. 9 through 11 below. [0023] The receiving end 21 further includes a slot 33 defined by left 26 and right 24 receiving end guide members. The left receiving end guide member (also referred to as a first retention arm) 26 extends from the first left-side wall 104 . The right receiving end guide member (also referred to as a second retention arm) 24 extends from the first right-side wall 106 . The first and second retention arms are substantially rhomboid-shaped and extend towards one another. In one embodiment, the first 26 and second 24 retention arms also have outer edge lengths L 1 and L 2 , respectively, wherein the outer edge length L 2 of the second retention arm 24 is greater than the outer edge length L 1 of the first retention arm 26 . [0024] In one embodiment of the present invention, as shown in FIG. 4 , the second end of the female clip member 20 is a butt end 23 . The butt end 23 further includes a separate slot 35 defined by left 28 and right 32 butt end guide members (also referred to as retention arms). The left butt end retention arm 28 extends from the second left-side wall 105 . The right butt end retention arm 32 extends from the second right-side wall 107 . The left and right butt end retention arms are substantially rhomboid-shaped and extend towards one another. The left butt end retention arm 28 has an outer edge length L 3 . The right butt end retention arm has an outer edge length L 4 . In one embodiment the length L 3 of the left butt end retention arm 28 is greater than the length L 4 of the right butt end retention arm 32 . As shown in FIG. 4 , for example, the longer butt end retention arm 28 is on the opposite side of the female buckle from the longer receiving end retention arm 24 . This orientation of the retention arms provides for snug connectivity with the personal device (e.g., vest) through retention of both ends 21 and 23 of the clip 20 . [0025] The present invention can accommodate individual clips as shown in FIGS. 1-3 and 9 - 11 . Alternatively, the present invention can comprise single or multiple clips having receiving ends that face different directions. [0026] FIG. 12 illustrates a single clip member 60 having a female opening at the top 62 and bottom 64 ends, which are connected by a body portion 125 . The body portion 125 is hollow, with an opening 221 at the bottom receiving end 64 capable of receiving a corresponding male clip member, and an opening 222 at the top receiving end 62 capable of receiving another corresponding male clip member. The multi-axially hollow body portion 225 comprises a top section 202 having a longitudinal axis C-C, a bottom section 203 , a first left-side wall 204 , a second left-side wall 205 , a third left-side wall 208 , a first right-side wall 206 , a second right-side wall 207 and a third right-side wall 209 . The first left-side wall 204 , the first right-side wall 206 , the top section 202 and the bottom section 203 form the opening 221 extending through the first receiving end 64 of the body portion 225 and substantially along the longitudinal axis C-C of the top section. The third left-side wall 208 , the third right-side wall 209 , the top section 202 and the bottom section 203 form the opening 222 extending through the second receiving end 62 of the body portion 125 and substantially along the longitudinal axis C-C of the top section. The first left-side wall 204 , the second left-side wall 205 , the top section 202 , and the bottom section 203 , form an opening 130 extending through the body portion 225 substantially transverse to the longitudinal axis C-C of the top section. This opening 130 runs substantially parallel to the axis D-D of the top section 202 . The first right-side wall 206 , the second right-side wall 207 , the top section 202 and the bottom section 203 , form the structure for the opening 130 on the right side of the body portion 225 . The third left-side wall 208 , the second left-side wall 205 , the top section 202 , and the bottom section 203 , form an opening 230 extending through the body portion 225 substantially transverse to the longitudinal axis C-C of the top section. This opening 230 runs substantially parallel to the axis D-D of the top section 202 . The third right-side wall 209 , the second right-side wall 207 , the top section 202 and the bottom section 203 , form the structure for the opening 230 on the right side of the body portion 225 . The body portion 225 is designed with these openings 130 and 230 on the sides to accommodate the male clip members, as further described in connection with FIGS. 9 through 11 below. [0027] As shown in FIG. 12 , the first receiving end 64 of the double female clip member 60 further includes a slot 133 defined by left 227 and right 229 receiving end guide members. The left receiving end guide member (also referred to as a first retention arm) 227 extends from the first left-side wall 204 . The right receiving end guide member (also referred to as a second retention arm) 229 extends from the first right-side wall 206 . In one embodiment of the present invention, the first and second retention arms are substantially rhomboid-shaped and extend towards one another. Further, in another embodiment of the present invention, the first 227 and second 229 retention arms have lengths L 5 and L 6 , respectively, wherein the length L 6 of the second retention arm 229 is greater than the length L 5 of the first retention arm 227 . The second receiving end 62 of the double female clip member 60 further includes a slot 233 defined by left 226 and right 224 second receiving end guide members. The left second receiving end guide member (also referred to as a third retention arm) 226 extends from the third left-side wall 208 . The right second receiving end guide member (also referred to as a fourth retention arm) 224 extends from the third right-side wall 209 . In one embodiment of the present invention, the third 226 and fourth 224 retention arms are substantially rhomboid-shaped and extend towards one another. Further, in another embodiment of the present invention, the third and fourth retention arms 226 and 224 have lengths L 7 and L 8 respectively, wherein the length L 8 of the fourth retention arm 224 is greater than the length L 7 of the third retention arm 226 , for example. [0028] The present invention provides for snug connectivity with the personal device (e.g., vest) through retention of both ends 21 and 23 of the clip 20 ( FIG. 4 ) and both ends of clip 60 ( FIG. 12 ). As shown in FIGS. 5 , 7 and 8 , this retention can be accomplished, for example, via a strap 40 capable of sliding engagement with the two ends of the female clip member, wherein the strap is typically already part of the underlying device (e.g., vest). FIGS. 5 through 8 show one method of attaching the clip 20 to the vest of FIGS. 1 through 3 . In FIG. 5 , a portion 42 of strap 40 is inserted into the slot 33 between the left 26 and right 24 receiving end guide members. FIG. 6 shows the strap portion 42 fully inserted and resting atop members 26 , 24 . In FIG. 7 , another portion 44 of strap 40 is inserted into the slot 35 between the left (see 28 in FIG. 4 ) and right 32 butt end guide members. In FIG. 8 , the portion 44 of strap 40 is fully inserted. [0029] As shown in FIGS. 9 through 11 , a male clip member 50 can be inserted into the opening 22 at the receiving end 21 of a female member 20 in order to securely retain an attachment. The male buckle member 50 is engageable with the first left-side wall 104 and the first right-side wall 106 of the female buckle member 20 . FIG. 3 illustrates this connection with a chest rig 55 . A male buckle member 50 can also be inserted into the opening 222 of the second receiving end 62 of the double female clip member 60 shown in FIG. 12 . The male buckle member 50 is engageable with the third left-side wall 208 and the third right-side wall 209 of the female buckle member 60 . The vertical orientation of clip members 20 (or 60 ) and 50 is not provided for in prior devices and methods. This is largely because doing so would result in an attachment that flops around and does not keep a low profile snugly against the user and/or the user's personal device. [0030] It will be appreciated that the chest rig 55 and any other attachment may have additional devices or attachment methods for securing its other parts to the body and/or underlying device. For instance, the chest rig 55 in FIG. 3 may have additional clips extending from the sides thereof in order to fasten snugly behind the wearer's back. It will also be appreciated that a double female clip member 60 can be secured to the chest rig 55 in place of or in addition to the single female clip member 20 . The second receiving end 62 of the double female clip member 60 can be attached to the strap 40 via the same means used to attach the butt end 23 of the single female clip member 20 . [0031] FIG. 13 illustrates a pair of single clip members 70 and 72 adjacent one another, wherein member 70 includes an opening 74 extending downward, and member 72 includes an opening 76 extending upward. FIG. 14 illustrates a vest 75 with the clip member configuration of FIG. 13 incorporated in two locations thereon. FIG. 15 illustrates a vest 80 with the clip member configuration 60 of FIG. 12 incorporated thereon. It will be appreciated that the embodiments of FIGS. 12 through 15 , by permitting connection of the attachment system both below and above the clip members, accordingly allow a user to secure peripheral equipment and devices both along the front of the user's body as well as the back of a user's body. As such, a wearer may be able to simply and quickly fasten and release materials worn on his or her back, without having to slide out of a backpack, for example. [0032] It should be understood that the foregoing description and examples are only illustrative of the present invention; the optimum dimensional relationships for the parts of the invention, including variations in size, materials, shape, form, function and the manner of operation, assembly and use, are deemed readily apparent to one skilled in the art, and all equivalent relationships to those illustrated in the drawings and described in the specification are intended to be encompassed by the present invention. Thus, various alternatives and modifications can be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the present invention is intended to embrace all such alternatives, modifications, and variances that fall within the scope of the appended claims.

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