Backpack Frame

Backpack Frame

US 20140332576A1 (19) United States (12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2014/0332576 A1 (43) Pub. Date: Hairston et al. (54) BAC...

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US 20140332576A1

(19) United States (12) Patent Application Publication (10) Pub. No.: US 2014/0332576 A1 (43) Pub. Date:

Hairston et al.

(54)

BACKPACK FRAME

(52)

NOV. 13, 2014

(71) Applicant: Kuiu, Inc., Dixon, CA (US)

vs. C]. CPC A45F 3/08 (2013.01); A45F 3/04 (2013.01); A45F 3/10 (2013.01); A45F 2003/045

(72) Inventors: Jason Hairston, Dixon, CA (US);

USPC

(2013.01) ........................................................ ..

224/633

Zachary D. West, Seattle, WA (US)

(73) Assignee: Kuiu, Inc., Dixon, CA (US)

(57)

(21) Appl. No.: 14/282,167 May 20, 2014 (22) Filed:

A backpack and frame are disclosed. The backpack frame is designed to be at least partially internal and is of unitary construction, most advantageously of a resin-impregnated material, such as resin-impregnated carbon ?ber sheets with selective reinforcement by interstitial layers. The frame has a

Related US. Application Data

(63) (60)

Continuation of application No. 13/183,767, ?led on Jul. 15, 2011, now Pat. No. 8,740,028. Provisional application No. 61/365,097, ?led on Jul.

16, 2010. Publication Classi?cation

(51)

Int. Cl.

A45F 3/08 A45F 3/10 A45F 3/04

(2006.01) (2006.01) (2006.01)

ABSTRACT

mid-back portion that includes openings for independently positionable shoulder straps and a lower back portion that provides for a rotatable connection to a belt assembly. A pair

of curved stay portions is contiguous with the mid-back por tion of the frame and curves outwardly as the stay portions extend downwardly. The frame is preferably curved to match the curvature of the human back. The backpack frame is

lightweight and by use of composite materials can provide strength as well as selective ?exibility to suspend the load of the backpack and decouple it from the movements of the wearer.

Patent Application Publication

Nov. 13, 2014 Sheet 2 0f 8

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US 2014/0332576 A1

BACKPACK FRAME

prise layering sheets of material cut to de?ne the shape of the

backpack frame, placing interstitial layers of reinforcing CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation of US. applica tion Ser. No. 13/183,767, ?led Jul. 15, 2011, which claims priority to US. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/365, 097, ?led Jul. 16, 2010. The contents of both of those appli cations are incorporated by reference in their entirety.

[0002] [0003]

[0012]

These and other aspects, features, and advantages of

the invention will be set forth in the description that follows. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

[0013]

1. Field of the Invention The invention relates to frames for backpacks and

following drawing ?gures, in which like numerals represent

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art [0005] Many backpacks and knapsacks have rigid or semi rigid frames that act to suspend the backpack load and dis tribute it more evenly to the wearer’ s body. Some frames also allow a user to secure or cinch gear to his or her back more

easily than with a backpack alone. Backpack frames may be either internal to the backpack or external to it.

Traditionally, external backpack frames have been

made of metal tubes, such as aluminum or steel tubes. These types of frames are simple to construct, as the tubes are simply

welded together, but they are typically very heavy, and thus reduce the effective load that a user can carry.

[0007]

selectively reinforce parts of the structure, and impregnating the composite structure with a resin material.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

knapsacks.

[0006]

material selectively between the sheets of material so as to

Internal backpack frames are generally made to be

The invention will be described with respect to the

like views throughout the drawings, and in which: [0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a backpack and frame according to one embodiment of the invention; [0015] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the backpack frame of FIG. 1 with straps and without the backpack; [0016] FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the backpack frame of FIGS. 1-2 in isolation; [0017] FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of the backpack frame of FIG. 1; [0018] FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the backpack frame of FIG. 1; [0019] FIG. 6 is a front elevational view of the backpack frame of FIG. 1 with a hip strap attachment installed; [0020] FIG. 7 is a rear elevational view of the backpack frame of FIG. 1 shaded to indicate the position and extent of

lighter, but problems typically arise in making an internal

reinforcing layers within the frame; and

frame that has a useful combination of strength and ?exibility. Some degree of ?exibility in a backpack frame can help to

according to another embodiment of the invention, shaded to

[0021]

FIG. 8 is a rear elevational view of a backpack frame

cushion the user against shifts in the load as he or she walks or

indicate the position and extent of reinforcing layers within

runs and to “decouple” the backpack load from the user and his or her movements. However, the problem is multifaceted, because there are some places in a backpack frame where strength and stiffness are warranted in order to properly sup

the frame.

port the backpack load. [0008] One solution to the stiffness/?exibility problem is to use different materials for different parts of the backpack frame, and some manufacturers have attempted to do so. However, conventional attempts to use many different mate rials in the same frame often become so complex that they are dif?cult to manufacture and maintain.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0009] One aspect of the invention relates to a backpack with a semi-intemal frame. The backpack frame is of unitary construction and includes a mid-back portion with openings that allow independently positionable shoulder strap assem

blies to be attached. A U-shaped lower back portion provides a connection point for a belt assembly. A pair of stay portions are adapted to rest within a backpack, support a backpack

load, and dynamically store and release energy resiliently so as to decouple the load from the wearer. The stay portions begin parallel to one another at a point just above the mid back portion and curve outward laterally as they extend downward. The backpack frame may have a general curvature to match that of the human back, and may be comprised of

resin-impregnated materials, including selectively reinforced carbon ?ber. [0010] Another aspect of the invention relates to a back

pack frame, having the features described above. [0011] A further aspect of the invention relates to methods of forming a backpack frame. In general, these methods com

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0022] FIG. 1 is a rear perspective view of a backpack, generally indicated at 1 0, according to one embodiment of the invention. The backpack has a closeable storage volume 12 and a semi-intemal frame, generally indicated at 14. As used in this description, the term “semi-intemal” refers to the fact that in the illustrated embodiment, the frame 14 is at least partially exposed. However, the frame 14 need not necessar

ily be partially exposed in all embodiments, and may be completely internal. [0023] The backpack 10 also includes three main load transfer points or nodes, at which the load of the backpack 10 is transferred to the wearer of the backpack 10: two indepen

dently adjustable and positionable shoulder strap assemblies 16, 18 and a belt assembly 20. The shoulder strap assemblies 16, 18 and belt assembly 20 attach to the frame 14 using fasteners 22, 24. As will be described below in more detail, the shoulder strap assemblies 16, 18 attach to the frame 14 along respective sliding tracks, so that their vertical and hori zontal positions can be independently adjusted. The fastener 24 (not shown in FIG. 1) and related structure that secure the belt assembly 20 to the frame 14 are such that the belt assem

bly 20 can rotate in plane about the axis de?ned by the fastener 24. [0024] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the frame 14 with the shoulder strap assemblies 16, 18 and belt assembly 20

installed, but without the backpack 10. Straps 26, 28, 29 attached to the shoulder strap and belt assemblies 16, 18, 20 are looped through slots 32, 34, 36 in the frame 14 to connect the assemblies 16, 18, 20 to the frame 14, as will be described

Nov. 13, 2014

US 2014/0332576 A1

below in more detail. Each of the assemblies 16, 18, 20

includes a padded portion 38, 40 that is adapted to rest against the body. Straps 26, 28, typically made of webbing, such as

nylon webbing, are attached to the padded portion. Length adjustment buckles and quick-release connectors are pro vided to ?t the assemblies 16, 18, 20 to the body. [0025] FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of the frame 14 in isolation. The frame 14 is most advantageously a unitary (i.e.,

connection and engagement with the backpack 10. The mid back portion 46 may also be provided with attachment slots

50 along its upper edge. [0030] The mid-back portion 46 of the frame 14 carries a pair of generally linear openings 52, 54 that serve as tracks in which the fasteners 22 can slide, so as to allow the shoulder

strap assemblies 16, 18 to be independently positioned. In the

some places and stiffness in others. The frame 14 includes a

illustrated embodiment, the openings that serve as tracks 52, 54 are angled slightly inwardly as they extend from top to bottom, although this need not be the case in all embodiments.

pair of left and right stay portions 42, 44, a mid-back portion

Instead, the openings 52, 54 may be given any appropriate

single piece) structure that is engineered for ?exibility in 46, and a lower portion 48, which attaches to the belt assem

shape, including curved or arcuate, so as to provide for a range

bly 20. (In this context, the terms “left” and “right” refer only to the coordinate system of the ?gures.) [0026] The left and right stay portions 42, 44 are mirror

of shoulder strap assembly 16, 18 positions. Alternatively, instead of a set of continuous track-openings 52, 54, some embodiments of the frame 14 may be provided with sets or

images of one another, and are the primary means by which the frame 14 connects to and suspends the load of the back

series of unconnected, discrete openings that provide discrete positions into which the shoulder strap assemblies 16, 18 may

pack 10. The respective top and bottom ends of the stay portions 42, 44 ?t into correspondingly positioned and sized pockets in the backpack 10 (not shown in the ?gures). The stay portions 42, 44 provide the combination of ?exibility and selective strength that suspends the load in the backpack 10 while mechanically decoupling and cushioning it from the

be secured.

wearer.

[0027] In general, the contours of the stay portions 42, 44 are designed to bring the load from the load transfer points, follow generally the curvature of the human back, and pro vide clearance where necessary so that, for example, an elbow

[0031] The mid-back and lowerportions 46, 48 of the frame 14 carry two large openings 56, 58. These openings 56, 58 provide ventilation and air ?ow, and also serve to lighten the frame 14. [0032] The lower portion 48 of the frame 14 has the general U-shape of a tongue. A projection 60, in the form of a trun cated cone, projects forwardly, out of the plane of the frame

14, is provided for attachment of the belt assembly 20, and includes its own opening 62 to facilitate the passage of fas teners and the securement of the belt assembly 20. The space

projected rearwardly during stride will not hit the frame 14. Additionally, the static contours of the stay portions 42, 44 help to pretension the stay portions 42, 44 so that in dynamic

portion, allowing the lower portion 48 to ?ex somewhat rela

use, with the backpack 10 loaded, they can store and release

tive to the mid-back portion. As can be seen in the side

energy, increasing their ability to cushion and decouple the load from the wearer. Essentially, the stay portions 42, 44 act

64 between the lower end of the track-openings 52, 54 and the lower of the two large openings 58 acts as a de facto hinge

elevational view of FIG. 5, the mid-back and lower portions

As can be seen in FIG. 3, as well as in the rear

46, 48 are generally contoured to follow the curvature of the human back. [0033] The frame 14 may be made of a number of materials,

perspective view of FIG. 4, the stay portions 42, 44 curve in at least two planes. Along the long axis of the frame 14, the two

posite-type, resin-impregnated materials. For example, in the

as resilient members or springs to suspend the load. [0028]

including plastics, but is most advantageously made of com

stay portions 42, 44 begin generally parallel to one another

illustrated embodiment, the frame 14 is made primarily of

toward the top of the frame, extending a few inches above the

layers of resin-impregnated carbon ?ber sheeting, with selec tive reinforcement by including interstitial materials between

mid-back portion 46. As they sweep downwardly along the long axis of the frame 14, the two stay portions 42, 44 diverge arcuately outwardly until, at their lower terminus, they are separated from the lower portion 48 by a distance and are angled away from the mid-back and lower portions 46, 48 of the frame. [0029] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 and in the side eleva tional view of FIG. 5, as the stay portions 42, 44 extend

downwardly and diverge to the left and right of the frame 14, they also curve slightly rearwardly, out of the plane of the frame 14 itself. Because the stay portions 42, 44 will gener ally be pulled forwardly during use, the slight rearward cur vature of the stay portions 42, 44 when unloaded causes them to be pretensioned while in dynamic use. Similarly, since the lower ends of the stay members 42, 44 will typically be drawn laterally inward toward the frame 14, particularly if they are attached to or near the belt assembly 20, the left and right divergent curvature of the stay portions 42, 44 causes them to be pretensioned in that plane as they are drawn inward. The top ends of the stay portions 42, 44 also serve to lift the load slightly off the shoulders and to tension the frame 14. As was

adjacent layers of carbon ?ber so as to selectively create

sandwich-type composites in areas of the frame requiring more strength or ?exibility. The layers of carbon ?ber may be

comprised of, for example, sheets of 284 twill carbon ?ber sheeting, and high wear areas, such as the area aron the

opening 62 in the projection 60 may include additional layers of carbon ?ber sheeting. An advantage of such composite materials is that they have the capacity to dynamically store and controllably release more energy as they ?ex than pure plastics or metals would, which may allow them to cushion and decouple the load from the wearer more effectively than other materials. [0034] FIG. 7 is a rear elevational view of the frame 14 that is shaded to illustrate the location of reinforcements. More

speci?cally, the stippled shading in FIG. 7 illustrates the location and extent of reinforcing material. Typically, in the illustrated embodiment, a reinforced area is reinforced with at

least one layer of reinforcing material, such as FIBER

GLAS®, between inner and outer layers of primary material. [0035] The stays 42, 44 have reinforcements 66, 68 along

described above, the respective ends of the stay portions 42,

substantially the entirety of their length, terminating just

44 are provided with horizontal and/or vertical slots 32, 34, or any other suitable kind of opening or structure, to facilitate

before the ends of the stays 42, 44. In some embodiments, the reinforcement may comprise sheets of woven or non-woven

Nov. 13, 2014

US 2014/0332576 A1

glass ?ber (such as FIBERGLAS®). However, in the illus trated embodiment, the reinforcements 66, 68 in the stays 42, 44 comprise oriented strands of glass yarn or ?ber, laid along the long axis of the stays 42, 44, as indicated by arrows A in FIG. 7. In other embodiments, the reinforcements 66, 68 in the stays 42, 44 may comprise foam, as will be described below in more detail.

[0036] In addition to the glass ?ber reinforcements 66, 68 in the stays 42, 44, a broad section of the frame 14 that extends from the mid-back portion 46 into the lower-back portion 48 is reinforced by the inclusion of a foam insert 70 between two

layers of carbon ?ber sheeting, creating a sandwich-type composite material. The foam insert 70 covers the area

around the large opening 56 and the two track-openings 52, 54 in the mid-back portion 46 and extends downwardly in a

horseshoe-shape into the lower portion 48. The foam may be, for example, a PVC closed cell foam. [0037] The frame 14 may be made by any known method of

resin-impregnation. One particularly advantageous manufac turing method is resin extrusion, in which sheets of material are cut to desired shapes, laid in a mold, and resin is pumped into and drawn out of the mold. The resin used in the manu facture of the frame 14 may be any resin known in the art. For

example, polyester and epoxy resins may be used in embodi ments of the invention, although polyester resins may be more UV-stable over time, and may thus be preferred in some embodiments. [0038] A completed frame 14 may be, for example, on the order of 0.375 inches thick to about 0.625 inches thick, depending on the desired stiffness and the loads that are to be carried. The frame 14 may vary somewhat in thickness across its area, with reinforced areas being thicker. The frame 14 as a whole may be thicker if greater strength and/ or stiffness are

required. [0039]

The size and proportions of the frame 14 will gen

considerations. Backpacks 10 and their frames 14 may be made in a variety of sizes, based on the same or different

proportions. Frames according to embodiments of the invention

may also include additional features. For example, in some embodiments, a frame may include portions that extend per pendicularly outward from the mid-back or lower back por tions and can be used to cinch gear to the frame. [0041]

illuminating, rather than limiting. Modi?cations and changes may be made within the scope of the invention, which is

de?ned by the appended claims. What is claimed is:

1. A backpack frame, comprising: a unitary, contiguous, contoured frame body, including a mid-back portion having ?rst and second elongate open ings, the ?rst and second elongate openings being con structed and arranged to receive shoulder strap assem blies such that each of the shoulder strap assemblies is independently positionable within one of the ?rst and

second openings; a lower portion contiguous with the mid-back portion, the lower portion including structure constructed and adapted to receive a belt assembly; and a pair of elongate stay portions that are contiguous with the mid-back portion, begin generally parallel to one another at a point just beyond an upper terminus of the mid-back portion and curve outward, diverging to the left and right of the mid-back portion and lower portion as they traverse downwardly, terminating in lower, sepa rate free ends; wherein the entirety of the depending tongue and the stays maintain an open space between one another below the

mid-back portion. 2. The backpack frame of claim 1, wherein the backpack frame comprises a resin-impregnated unitary structure. 3. The backpack frame of claim 2, wherein the resin-im pregnated structure comprises at least two layers of carbon

?ber sheeting. 4. The backpack frame of claim 3, wherein the resin-im

pregnated structure further comprises selectively placed

erally be dictated by anthropometric data and ergonomic

[0040]

[0043] While the invention has been described with respect to certain embodiments, the description is intended to be

FIG. 8 is a rear elevational view of a frame 100

according to another aspect of the invention, shaded similarly to FIG. 7 to illustrate the locations of reinforcements. Frame

100 is substantially similar to frame 14, and thus, the descrip tion above will suf?ce for most elements. Frame 100 differs from frame 14 of FIGS. 1-7 in the location and extent of its

reinforcements and in the size and shape of certain openings. [0042] Speci?cally, frame 100 has separate reinforcements 102, 104 in the mid-back and lower portions 106, 108. The reinforcements 102, 104 may be of the same material or different materials, and may be the same material as used in frame 14 of FIGS. 1-7. Additionally, there are a number of

T-shaped openings 110, 112, 114 which may be used to

interstitial reinforcing layers between the at least two layers of carbon ?ber sheeting. 5. The backpack frame of claim 4, wherein the stay por

tions comprise interstitial reinforcing layers comprised of glass ?ber oriented along their respective lengths. 6. The backpack frame of claim 4, wherein the mid-back

portion and the lower back portion comprise foam interstitial

reinforcing layers. 7. The backpack frame of claim 1, wherein the mid-back and lower back portions are contoured to match the contours of the human back.

8. The backpack frame of claim 1, wherein the ?rst and

second openings comprise generally linear tracks. 9. The backpack frame of claim 1, wherein the lower, separate free ends of the pair of stay portions extend rear

wardly of the depending tongue. 10. A backpack and frame combination, comprising: a backpack including one or more panels enclosing a storage volume, the

backpack having frame-receiving structure, a pair of shoulder strap assemblies, and a belt assembly; and

a unitary, contiguous backpack frame including

secure straps or other ?ttings to the frame 100. The tracks 116, 118 are also slightly different in shape, as they have lower

a mid-back portion having ?rst and second elongate

ends 120, 122 that broaden into generally rectangular open ings. Thus, as frame 100 illustrates, frames according to

being constructed and arranged to receive shoulder strap assemblies such that each of the shoulder strap assemblies is independently positionable within one of the ?rst and second openings,

embodiments of the invention may have many different types,

shapes, and sizes of openings.

openings, the ?rst and second elongate openings

Nov. 13, 2014

US 2014/0332576 A1

a lower portion contiguous with the mid-back portion, the lower portion including structure constructed and adapted to receive the belt assembly, and a pair of elongate stay portions that are contiguous with the mid-back portion, begin generally parallel to one

selectively placed interstitial reinforcing layers between the at least two layers of carbon ?ber sheeting. 14. The backpack and frame combination of claim 13,

wherein the stay portions comprise interstitial reinforcing layers comprised of glass ?ber oriented along their respective

another at a point just beyond an upper terminus of the mid-back portion and curve outward, diverging to the left and right of the mid-back portion and lower por tion as they traverse downwardly, terminating in lower, separate free ends, such that the entirety of the depending tongue and the stays maintain an open

15. The backpack and frame combination of claim 13, wherein the mid-back portion and the lower back portion

space between one another below the mid-back por

wherein the mid-back and lower back portions are contoured to match the contours of the human back.

tion; wherein the backpack frame is arranged in the backpack such that it is received in the frame-receiving structure. 11. The backpack and frame combination of claim 10,

wherein the backpack frame comprises a resin-impregnated unitary structure. 12. The backpack and frame combination of claim 11, wherein the resin-impregnated structure comprises at least two layers of carbon ?ber sheeting. 13. The backpack and frame combination of claim 12, wherein the resin-impregnated structure further comprises

lengths. comprise foam interstitial reinforcing layers. 16. The backpack and frame combination of claim 10,

17. The backpack and frame combination of claim 10, wherein the lower, separate free ends of the pair of stay portions extend rearwardly of the depending tongue in an unloaded con?guration of the backpack frame. 18. The backpack and frame combination of claim 17, wherein the lower, separate free ends of the pair of stay portions are drawn forwardly in a loaded con?guration of the

backpack frame.