|Publication number||WO2011130364 A1|
|Publication date||20 Oct 2011|
|Filing date||13 Apr 2011|
|Priority date||13 Apr 2010|
|Also published as||US20110247911|
|Publication number||PCT/2011/32247, PCT/US/11/032247, PCT/US/11/32247, PCT/US/2011/032247, PCT/US/2011/32247, PCT/US11/032247, PCT/US11/32247, PCT/US11032247, PCT/US1132247, PCT/US2011/032247, PCT/US2011/32247, PCT/US2011032247, PCT/US201132247, WO 2011/130364 A1, WO 2011130364 A1, WO 2011130364A1, WO-A1-2011130364, WO2011/130364A1, WO2011130364 A1, WO2011130364A1|
|Inventors||John F. Reno, Patrick J. Bagley, Kevin W. Ketchum|
|Applicant||Reno John F, Bagley Patrick J, Ketchum Kevin W|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (10), Classifications (5), Legal Events (3)|
|External Links: Patentscope, Espacenet|
TEAM EQUIPMENT BAG BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1 . TECHNICAL FIELD
 The present invention relates to storage and carrying devices. In particular, the present invention relates to bags for organizing and carrying Little League Baseball and Softball athletic equipment such as baseball bats, gloves, balls, helmets, catcher's equipment, and first aid kits.
2. BACKGROUND ART
 Older athletes commonly use their own equipment bags for transporting athletic equipment to and from the practice field and games. In the case of Little League Baseball, the duty of transporting team equipment such as bats, balls, batting helmets and catcher's equipment often falls on the little league coach. Little league equipment is typically supplied in a large duffel bag, along with a helmet bag and ball bucket. The coach and assistant coaches are responsible for transporting and maintaining the various equipment throughout the duration of the season. The team equipment is commonly stored in the coach's vehicle and carried by hand to and from the field for practices and games. Once located in the dugout, the team equipment is unloaded and organized for the players; batting helmets are typically placed on the ground, bats are placed against the fence or in some cases the field will supply bat racks. Baseballs and all other miscellaneous equipment is typically gathered on the ground in the corner of the dugout where it is readily accessible to the players, yet out of the way so as not to form a trip hazard in the narrow dugout. The dugouts utilize the dirt field surface with a metal chain link fence to protect the players. The dugouts typically do not have roofs, therefore on raining days, equipment such as batting helmets, catcher's equipment, baseballs, and miscellaneous team gear will get wet and gather mud and debris. The coaching staff is therefore responsible for helping the players keep the equipment free of mud and debris so that the players can use the equipment when required.
 Some Little League organizations have provided coaches with equipment carts that resemble upright "shopping cart". Although the little league equipment cart relieves the coach of carrying the heavy equipment to and from his vehicle, the carts are bulky and do not fit in a standard size automobile. Also, once the equipment cart is unloaded in the dugout, it is typically placed out of the way to allow players to move about. The cart may assist with transporting; however, it does not resolve the problems previously mentioned.
 Therefore, there is a need for a portable sports bag for housing, transporting, organizing and protecting the equipment of a little league baseball/softball team. A portable sports bag is needed that while in the closed position is manageable by one adult person, fits easily in a standard size automobile, while being durable and lightweight for convenient transport to and from the playing filed. The equipment bag should also be user friendly and while in the open position provide an organized, easily accessible system for baseball and Softball equipment, which can be secured quickly to a dugout fence or secured to the back wall of a structural dugout. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides for an equipment bag for storing and carrying athletic equipment, including a body forming an upper half and a lower half of the bag, the upper half and the lower half operatively and flexibly connected one a first side, a securing mechanism for securing a second, third and fourth side of the upper half and the lower half, wheels for rolling the equipment bag operatively attached to the body, a handle for gripping the equipment bag operatively attached to the body, outer storage for storing equipment operatively attached to an outer surface of the body, inner storage for storing equipment within the body, a bat rack for hanging bats operatively attached to the body, and a fence securing mechanism for securing the equipment bag to a fence.
 The present invention also provides for a method of carrying equipment by loading equipment into the equipment bag, securing the equipment bag, transporting the equipment bag, and opening the equipment bag and securing it to a fence.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 Other advantages of the present invention are readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein:
 FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of a front side of the equipment bag in an open position;  FIGURE 2 is a perspective view of a back side of the equipment bag in an open position;
 FIGURE 3 is a front perspective view of the equipment bag with a screen;
 FIGURE 4 is a front perspective view of the equipment bag in an open position with pockets;
 FIGURE 5 is a side perspective view of the equipment bag in an open position; and
 FIGURE 6 is a front perspective view of the equipment bag in an open position.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention provides for an equipment bag 10, generally shown in FIGURE 1 , that is a portable enclosure for storing and carrying athletic equipment which, in a closed position, forms a rigid rectangular duffle bag (cart) having a closed interior volume, which can be opened into a flat (open) position. The open position is shown in FIGURES 1 -6.
 The equipment bag 10 is made of ten fabric covered rigid panels 12 that are interconnected to form an upper half 1 1 and lower half 13 of the bag: two back panels 14, four full length side panels 16, and four end panels 18. The panels 12 preferably are made from a structural plastic or foam core skeletal structure that are covered with reinforced fabric, such as but not limited to, heavy duty nylon or canvas. Back panels 14 also preferably include a durable plastic material to protect the bag 10 when resting on the ground or parking lot. The panels can be a variety of textures and colors, and can be made to match team colors. Outer surfaces 28, 29 of the two back panels 14 can also include a bag manufacturer's logo and/or team logo or commercial branding, as shown in FIGURE 2. The outer surfaces 28, 29 can optionally include skid pegs at corners.
 Two of the full length side panels 1 6 are connected to form a flexible seam 20, that can be reinforced to be durable, that runs the entire length of one side of the equipment bag 10. The other three sides (i.e. the end panels 1 8 and the other two full length side panels 16 not secured by the flexible seam 20) securely fasten together using a heavy duty zipper 22 that runs continuously along the outer three surfaces of the mating side walls. The zipper 22 transforms the bag 10 from the open position to the closed position, and vice versa. Preferably, the zipper 22 is reinforced for durability and multiple cycles. In the closed position, the equipment bag 10 is rigid and therefore, with the provision of two "luggage" wheels 24 incorporated into the bottom lower edge of the back panel 14 of the lower half 13, the equipment bag 10 can be carted to and from the playing field. The wheels 24 are preferably large high-strength polymer wheels that are durable for rolling transport.
 At least one handle 26 is fastened to the side panels 1 6 and/or end panels 18 to allow a person to pick-up the bag 10 when loading and unloading into a vehicle, or when pulling the bag 10 and utilizing the wheels 24. Preferably, multiple handles 26 are included to allow for carrying from multiple places on the bag 10. The handles 26 can be fabric and reinforced for extra strength and durability, such as but not limited to, nylon reinforced. The handle 26 can also be collapsible or fixed to the bag 1 0. Various positions of the handles 26 are shown in FIGURES 1 and 2.
 As shown in FIGURE 2, outer surface 28 of the lower back panel 14 incorporates a flexible pocket 30 capable of storing five team baseball bats 32. The pocket 30 can be an accordion style pocket and preferably is made of durable plastic material for the protection of the bats 32. The pocket 30 can further include individual bat sleeves in order to protect the bats 32 during transport. The bag 10 can further include a durable flap 34 connected to the outer surface 28 of lower back panel 14 by a flexible seam that securely encloses the bats 32 inside the flexible pocket 30 and prohibits damage or fallout. This flap 34 can be secured by any means known in the art, such as, but not limited to hook and loop closures, snaps, zippers, or combinations thereof.
 End panels 18 can include clear pouches 36, as shown in FIGURE 2, in which team information can be inserted, such as, but not limited to, batting order, field positions, team roster, a score book, or combinations thereof. The pouches 36 can be made of any clear material known in the art.
 When the equipment bag 10 is unzipped into the open position, the back panels 14 and side panels 16 open up and lay flat so that various compartments located on the interior surfaces 38 thereof are accessible in order to access and store team equipment and various other items.
 For example, batting helmets are stored in helmet compartments 42. Preferably, there are eight helmet compartments 42 that are separated by reinforced fabric or foam dividers 44 in the upper half 1 1 and lower half 13 of the bag 10. The dividers 44 are soft and flexible to mechanically trap helmets 40 when positioned in the helmet compartments 42. In another configuration, the helmet compartments 42 can be organized so that six store helmets 40 and two compartments 42 are combined into one space in order to store team catcher's equipment, which is larger than the players' helmets 40. Elastic fabric straps 46 are attached at opposite end panels 18 that secure the helmets 40 while in the helmet compartment 42 and during transit. Optionally, the elastic fabric straps 46 can be an elastic pouch.
 Baseballs 48 and various items are securely stowed in dedicated interior fabric sleeves. When the bag 10 is in an open position, the baseballs 48 can be removed from their sleeves and rest on the side panel 1 6 on the lower half 13 of the bag 10. The side panel 16 can also include a raised lip or ridge 50 in order to trap the baseballs 48 and other team items and prohibit them from rolling out of the bag 1 0 when in an open position hanging on a fence.
 As shown in FIGURE 4, the equipment bag 1 0 can also include elastic pockets 66 on the inside of end panels 18 to store miscellaneous team items such as first aid kits and/or water bottles. The shape and size of pockets 66 can be varied depending on space limitations inside the bag 1 0.
 A retractable bat rack 52 is connected by a flexible hinge 54 to an inner edge 56 of the lower side panel 16. The bat rack 52 can be folded outward to allow players to hang bats 32 for quick access, team bats 32 are removed from back pocket 30 allowing back panel 14 to flatten. Preferably, the bat rack 52 is constructed of high impact plastic to support twelve bats 32. Alternatively, stamped aluminum can be used. Less than twelve bats can also be supported. The bat rack 52 can be secured inside the bag 10 by an elastic or fabric strap when not in use.
 Since the entire equipment bag 1 0 opens flat and has structural integrity, it can be secured quickly to a dugout fence or secured to the back wall of a structural dugout using the durable fabric straps 58 and D-rings 60 that are fastened to the outer surface 28 of the back panel 14 on the upper half 1 1 . The entire bag 1 0 now acts as a centralized team equipment storage unit with "cubby-hole" compartments to ensure that team equipment is stored safely and free of dirt and debris but also allows quick access when equipment is required for use.
 Optionally, as shown in FIGURE 3, the equipment bag 10 can include a screen 62 attached to side panel 1 6 in the upper half 1 1 in order to keep dust or rain off of equipment. The screen 62 can also function to keep equipment from falling out while attaching the bag 10 to a fence or back-stop. The bag 1 0 can further include a heavy duty hook and loop side strap 64 on each side of the bag 10 that secures the upper half 1 1 to the lower half 13 at end panels 18. This maintains the upper half 1 1 and lower half 1 3 in a fixed position when hanging from a fence or back-stop. Alternatively, the strap 64 can be affixed to the upper half 1 1 and lower half 13 by snap tabs.
 In use, the equipment bag 10 can be loaded with equipment needed for a game. Helmets 40 can be placed in the helmet compartments 42, bats 32 can be placed in the pocket 30, and various other items as described above can be placed in their appropriate pocket or pouch. The upper half 1 1 is folded onto the lower half 13 and the zipper 22 is zipped around the upper half 1 1 and lower half 1 3, thus securing both halves to each other. The bag 1 0 can be grabbed by handle 26 and wheeled to a vehicle. Once at the game or practice site, the bag 1 0 can be wheeled to a desired place. The bag 1 0 can be unzipped to the open position and secured to a fence or back-stop with D-rings 60. Equipment can be removed as necessary from their compartments, and the bat rack 52 can be opened and bats 32 loaded thereon. This process can be repeated in reverse order to load the bag 1 0 back in the car after the game.
 Throughout this application, various publications, including United States patents, are referenced by author and year and patents by number. Full citations for the publications are listed below. The disclosures of these publications and patents in their entireties are hereby incorporated by reference into this application in order to more fully describe the state of the art to which this invention pertains.
 The invention has been described in an illustrative manner, and it is to be understood that the terminology, which has been used is intended to be in the nature of words of description rather than of limitation.
 Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is, therefore, to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention can be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.
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|Cooperative Classification||A63B71/0045, A63B2102/18, A63B59/50|
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