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Publication numberUS20020092858 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/833,873
Publication dateJul 18, 2002
Filing dateApr 12, 2001
Priority dateOct 27, 1998
Publication number09833873, 833873, US 2002/0092858 A1, US 2002/092858 A1, US 20020092858 A1, US 20020092858A1, US 2002092858 A1, US 2002092858A1, US-A1-20020092858, US-A1-2002092858, US2002/0092858A1, US2002/092858A1, US20020092858 A1, US20020092858A1, US2002092858 A1, US2002092858A1
InventorsRonald Bowman
Original AssigneeBowman Ronald L.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Human hydration system
US 20020092858 A1
Abstract
A rigid container holds fluid for human consumption. A first fluid tube and an air vent tube have first ends connected internal the container and have second ends extending away from the container. A rigid tube mount includes a fluid flow passageway with a fluid output and a fluid input that is connected to the second end of the fluid tube, and an air flow passageway with an air input and an air output connected to the second end of the air vent-tube. A flexible mouth member includes a bite valve portion and an air filter portion, the air filter portion includes an open sided cavity having an air filter mounted therein, the cavity having an open bottom mounted onto the air input of the air flow passageway, the bite valve portion includes a fluid cavity formed by a number of side walls and a top wall, the fluid cavity has an open bottom mounted onto the fluid output of the fluid flow passageway. An external mouth stop extends outward from the flexible member for engagement with the user's lips and as a tactile mouth insertion indicator whereby the bite valve portion is in the user's mouth as the air filter portion is external. A bite valve that will maintain a level of liquid at any position in the liquid transfer tube and will allow a liquid to return to the container at any desired time. A flexible fluid tube internal the container has one end connected to the one end of the first fluid tube, and has a second end extending a distance into the container less than the container depth. Movement of the flexible fluid tube is damped by fluid, and the flexible fluid tube engages the container side walls when the container is relatively empty, providing an audible container empty signal.
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Claims(21)
What is claimed is:
1. A Human Hydration System comprising;
a portable container for holding a liquid, whereby said container holds a defined open shape when empty,
a vent allowing air to enter said container as said liquid is removed,
a flexible liquid tube with a first end connected into said container and a second end extending away from said container, said first end of flexible liquid tube establishing contact with said liquid in said container,
a mouth operated liquid dispenser connected to said second end of said liquid tube for establishing fluidic communication with said liquid in said container, whereby said mouth operated liquid dispenser maintains said liquid at any desired level in said liquid tube.
2. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 1 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser adjusts said liquid to any level in said liquid tube.
3. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 1 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser allows said liquid to return to said container.
4. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 1 wherein;
a pressure differential of less than 2½ pounds per square inch is required to move said liquid from said container through said mouth operated liquid dispenser and air through said vent.
5. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 1 whereas; said liquid tube has an internal volume of 115 cubic centimeters or less.
6. A Human hydration System in accordance with claim 1 whereas; said vent is remote to said container.
7. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 1 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser is positioned from 0° to 90° from said liquid tube.
8. A Human Hydration System comprising;
a portable container for holding a liquid, whereby said container holds a defined open shape when empty,
a vent allowing air to enter said container as said liquid is removed,
a flexible liquid tube with a first end connected into said container and a second end extending away from said container, said first end of flexible liquid tube establishing contact with said liquid in said container,
a mouth operated liquid dispenser connected to said second end of said liquid tube for establishing fluidic communication with said liquid in said container, whereby said mouth operated liquid dispenser adjusts said liquid to any desired level in said liquid tube.
9. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 8 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser maintains said liquid at any level in said liquid tube.
10. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 8 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser allows said liquid to return to said container.
11. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 8 wherein;
a pressure differential of less than 2½ pounds per square inch is required to move said liquid from said container through said mouth operated liquid dispenser and air through said vent.
12. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 8 whereas; said liquid tube has an internal volume of 115 cubic centimeters or less.
13. A Human hydration System in accordance with claim 8 whereas; said vent is remote to said container.
14. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 8 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser is positioned from 0° to 90° from said fluid tube.
15. A Human Hydration System comprising;
a portable container for holding a liquid, whereby said container holds a defined open shape when empty,
a vent allowing air to enter said container as said liquid is removed,
a flexible liquid tube with a first end connected into said container and a second end extending away from said container, said first end of flexible liquid tube establishing contact with said liquid in said container,
a mouth operated liquid dispenser connected to said second end of said liquid tube for establishing fluidic communication with said liquid in said container, whereby said mouth operated liquid dispenser allows said liquid to return to said container.
16. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 15 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser adjusts said liquid to any level in said liquid tube.
17. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 15 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser maintains said liquid at any desired level in said liquid tube.
18. A Human Hydration System is accordance with claim 15 wherein;
a pressure differential of less than 2½ pounds per square inch is required to move said liquid from said container through said mouth operated liquid dispenser and air through said vent
19. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 15 whereas; said liquid tube has an internal volume of 115 cubic centimeters or less.
20. A Human hydration System in accordance with claim 15 whereas; said vent is remote to said container.
21. A Human Hydration System in accordance with claim 15 whereas; said mouth operated liquid dispenser is positioned from 0° to 90° from liquid tube.
Description

[0001] In continuation of patent application Ser. No. 09/179,337 filed on Oct. 10, 1998, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to the field of human hydration systems. In particular, the present invention relates to a hydration system having a rigid liquid container with a remote vent that is located away from the container's liquid reservoir, a unique construction of a mouth operated liquid dispenser that is adapted to be placed in the mouth of a user and can maintain liquid at any level in a liquid tube.

[0004] Human hydration systems are used to hydrate or to re-hydrate a person that has lost, or is losing, body fluids as a result of heat, physical exertion, or the like. Generally, there are two types of human hydration systems; i.e., a hard or rigid container system and a soft or flexible bladder system.

[0005] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0006] A hard container system typically includes a hard, rigid or semi rigid liquid reservoir or container that is made from plastic, metal, glass, or another material that holds its shape when the container is empty. Examples of hard containers include, but are not limited to, NALGENE brand bottles, sports cycle bottles, canteens, and glass bottles. Hard containers can be easily washed, and one container can hold a number of different liquids, including water. Because the container is rigid, it is difficult to puncture, and the container typically retains its shape in a back pack when items are placed on top of the container. A rigid container system can be transported separate from or away from the user, for example, in a water carrier on a bicycle. A hard container system can also be mounted in a waist pack, allowing the weight of the liquid to be transferred to the user's hips.

[0007] Hard container systems generally require that the container be physically removed from a carrier or holder that holds the container. This often means stopping a physical activity, and removing the container from its carrier or holder in order to enable the user to re-hydrate. Virtually all hard containers are carried in this fashion. NALGENE Outdoor Products has a system that includes a tube that is passed through the lid of the container. The user obtains liquid by sucking on the end of the tube and the tube is compressed with a medical clamp that prevents liquid from flowing through the tube when it is not desired. In this system the vent is positioned in the lid of the liquid container. For liquid to be removed from a hard container the container must be vented to the atmosphere to permit air to enter and replace the volume of liquid being removed from the container. Exposure to harsh environmental conditions could allow dirt to enter the container, resulting in contamination of the liquid. Dirt can also obstruct the vent, thereby rendering the vent inoperable. Mechanical vents require a pressure differential that must be overcome to operate and this pressure differential adds resistance to the overall system.

[0008] The elevation difference from the container to the end of the liquid tube or mouth dispenser can often be many feet. This requires the user to suck the liquid through the length of the tube at each use. Some systems utilize check valves to prevent the liquid from returning to the container and remain in the tube. Other systems use motorized or manual pumps to force the liquid through the liquid tube, while other systems require complicated manual valves either in the liquid tube or mouth dispenser.

[0009] U.S. Pat. No. 5,301,858 describes a bicycle mounted hard container water bottle system wherein a liquid tube includes a mouth piece, and an oversleeve is provided so that the drinking tube can be shortened for non-bicycle use, and wherein the bottle includes a mechanical lid mounted rocker vent and a mouth piece with a one way valve. The one way valve maintains liquid in the system up to the mouth piece and allows liquid to move only in a single exiting direction. U.S. Pat. No. 5,431,308 describes a waist mounted hydration system, which uses an on/off valve positioned at an intermediate location in the liquid tube. U.S. Pat. No. 4,852,781 describes a waist mounted hard container that contains a curved hollow only slightly flexible sipping tube open at both ends. In this system the liquid returns to the container after each use and must be sucked through the length of the liquid during each use. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,265,769, 5,215,231 and 4,139,130 shows portable hydration systems with rigid or semi rigid containers that utilize in line check valves at various locations to the container to prevent liquid from returning to the container. U.S. Pat. No. 5,755,368 shows a portable hydration system that utilizes pressure from a carbonated beverage or alternate means of creating pressure within the container. U.S. Pat. No. 513,769 shows a portable hydration system for military use whereas pressure to move a substance through a tube is either created by a mechanical pump or sucking on a mouth dispenser. U.S. Pat. No. 4,971,048 shows a hydration system with a remote vent tube that a user blows into to create pressure inside the container to move liquid through a liquid tube to the user. The vent tube and liquid tube each contain an unidirectional valve that allows fluid movement in one direction. A company named Check Water has a system that attaches to bottled water containers and uses a break away inline check valve to maintain liquid in the tube extending to the mouth operated liquid dispenser. This check valve, patented by Paczonay, prevents liquid from returning to the container.

[0010] Check valves and unidirectional valves have a set value that must be overcome for the valve to operate properly. This set value is a pressure differential that must be overcome for the valve to operate. To achieve this value most valves generally uses spring tension or the resilient nature of a plastic or rubber material to close the valve. This tension is preset so the pressure to overcome the valve remains constant. If a liquid tube or vent contains an inline check valve the force to overcome the valve remains constant regardless of all other conditions in the system. Generally speaking, check valves are expensive to manufacture, degrade over time, malfunctions when dirty, freezes easily and allows fluid to flow in a single direction.

[0011] A soft bladder container system includes a soft liquid container or bladder as a liquid reservoir. A soft bladder system is easily compressed, folded or deformed. Examples of this type of system include, but are not limited to, the CAMELBACK brand system, the PLATYPUS brand system, bota bags, and collapsible water pails. The bladder that is used in this type of system is pliable, and requires some type of structural support when filled with liquid such as water. A tube is often used to draw water to the user's mouth from the reservoir of the soft bladder system. This enables the user to re-hydrate without stopping an activity. In use, the soft bladder or soft container collapses as liquid is removed from the reservoir. Because the soft bladder is not vented, and the bladder collapses when liquid is withdrawn, the soft bladder must be operated with its tube at the container's lowest point, for example the lid, facing generally downward in order for the bladder to be fully evacuated of fluid.

[0012] Soft bladder systems are susceptible to punctures and leaks. While positioned upside down and supported inside a carrier pack, a leak can drain the bladder of liquid onto vital gear, such as a sleeping bag or clothing. The soft materials that are used to manufacture the soft bladder hydration systems are selected to withstand water, but will often deteriorate or absorb non-water constituents present in other liquids. A soft bladder type of system is transported on the back of the user, which may increase the risk of back fatigue and back injury. The construction of a soft bladder hydration system typically causes water to flow from the liquid dispenser when the bladder becomes compressed during use. In addition a soft container is extremely difficult to clean. Many manufactures of soft bladder hydration systems such as CamelBak and Cascade Design offer secondary products such as patch kits, cleaning brushes, cleaning holders and extensive cleaning chemicals for their systems.

[0013] U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,816,457, 5,971,357 and 5,727,714 describes bladder type hydration systems. The system is carried in a back pack on the user's shoulder. The mouth operated liquid dispenser in these systems are designed to hold water from flowing through the valve as the bladder is compressed or when the bladder reservoir is positioned higher than the liquid dispenser, which is a common position while using the hydration system while riding a bicycle. U.S. Pat. No. 5,730,336 describes an elastomer material dispensing valve for a hydration system wherein the valve's front face comprises a diaphragm in the shape of a concave surface that faces the chamber side of the valve, this concave surface also contain slits and the slits remain in a closed position when the diaphragm is not distorted. This patent also describes a function of the valve where it is intentionally deformable from a greater pressure outside of the valve. This refers to a negative pressure within the valve when compared to outside pressure. U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,085,349, 6,032,831 and 6,070,767 describes a hydration system wherein a liquid dispensing valve resists a positive pressure within the valve by incorporating a sealing angle or lips on the internal surface of the sealing face. These sealing angles and lips increase sealing pressure within the liquid dispensing valve when pressure is greater within the valve than the ambient surroundings. U.S. Pat. No. 6,062,435 shows a hydration system with a liquid dispensing device that opens and closes by a pressure deferential on the device. The liquid dispensing device will not allow air to enter, keeping a liquid at the level of the liquid dispensing device. This design also contains a necessary baffle to dampen unexpected compression of the reservoir.

[0014] The present invention shows a hydration system with a rigid or semi rigid container, a liquid tube and a mouth operated liquid dispenser. More specifically the present invention shows a hydration system with a mouth operated liquid dispenser that will maintain any desired level of liquid in the liquid dispenser or liquid tube with a supply reservoir located significantly lower than the liquid dispenser. The present invention also shows that the liquid in the liquid tube and mouth operated liquid dispenser may be further adjusted to any location in the liquid tube or returned to the container if desired. The present invention also shows a remote vent to a container to help assure that returning air through the vent is clean when the container encounters a harsh environment. The present invention also teaches that a remote vent is not necessary when the hydration system is used in casual or normal situations.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0015] The above-discussed problems and other problems with prior hydration systems are overcome by the human hydration system of the present invention. The present invention details a hydration system where a rigid or semi rigid reservoir is used and transported at an elevation significantly lower than the mouth operated liquid dispenser. In this situation liquid in the liquid dispenser and liquid tube tries to equalize with liquid in the reservoir. If liquid returns to the rigid reservoir during use the user must expend energy and time sucking the liquid through the tube to the liquid dispenser multiple times. This can be frustrating and time consuming when the user requires liquid. The mouth operated liquid dispenser must be able to maintain liquid in the liquid tube and liquid dispenser. Liquid must also be able to be returned to the reservoir at any desired time especially when encountering conditions such as a freezing environment or desert conditions. This prevents the liquid from freezing in the liquid tube or from becoming over heated. Hydration systems that incorporate inline check valves and one way valves cannot do this.

[0016] The present invention has a vent to a container that is remote to the container itself. This allows the container to be placed or transported in a harsh environment and the air returning to the container will be separate from the environment of the container. This helps assure that the liquid will not become contaminated while the container is in a harsh environment. These conditions only exist in the most rugged of environments and to individuals that explore these regions. The present invention is intended for the harshest of conditions, as well as, casual users on daily hikes. Casual users will probably never encounter severe changing environmental conditions so in this situation a remote vent is not necessary. A vent near the rigid container is sufficient in average environmental conditions but the performance of the hydration system and liquid dispenser is critical in all systems. The present invention is intended to satisfy the needs of the most rugged of environmental conditions to the casual user without compromising performance on any level.

[0017] The present invention utilizes a filtered passive, non-mechanical, vent. This type of venting is easier to clean and maintain and adds less resistance to the overall system. Mechanical vents generally include check valves and, as shown earlier, check valves add resistance to any fluid system. The remote vent is a flexible tube that enters the container on one end and the other end is positioned some distance away from the container. The remote vent tube creates a passage for air to return to the container as liquid is removed.

[0018] Any fluid traveling through an enclosed passage such as a tube or opening encounters resistance from the walls of the tube and a micro layer of fluid that does not flow with the fluid but remains stationary with the passage wall. The resistance depends on characteristics of the fluid, passage wall and the diameter and length of the tube. In the present invention it is preferred a remote vent tube area is about 33% the area of the liquid tube. In a vent that is attached directly to a container the resistance is much less due to the length of the vent passage. It is preferred that a container attached vent has a area of about 15% the area of the liquid tube. It is preferred that moving air through a vent, or vent tube, adds less than 5% total resistance to the system. It is preferred that a passive vent is used in a rigid hydration system where a pressure differential of less than 2½ pounds per square inch is required to draw liquid through the liquid dispenser from the rigid container, creating a partial vacuum in the container that pulls outside air through the vent into the container.

[0019] The reservoir of this invention includes a rigid or semi rigid container that is made from hi-density polyethylene or other material. The container includes a void or fill openings through which liquid may enter the container for storage therein. This fill void is covered by a removable lid. The lid is securely attached and sealed to the containers fill void in a manner that prevents fluid leakage from the interior of the container, for example by the use of mating threads.

[0020] As used herein, the term closed, rigid, semi rigid and/or hard container for a human hydration system is intended to mean a container in which a partial vacuum is created when a user draws a quantity of liquid out of the container: stated another way, a closed container that does not collapse as liquid is withdrawn therefrom. While conventional cylindrical-shaped containers will be described, any container shape is usable with the invention, including military flask-like canteens.

[0021] As used herein, the term remote vent, remote end of a vent tube, for a human hydration system is intended to mean a vent, or an end of a vent tube, that is separated by an interval from a hard container, or is spaced from the container by a distance that is greater than the usual amount. A distal end of a vent tube in accordance with this invention is generally open to the ambient atmosphere, and may include an air filter element. The distance measured from this distal end of the vent tube to the fluid containing container that is being vented varies in accordance with specific usage. For example, the vent tube may be as short as 1.0-inch, or it may be on the order of a few feet in length. Examples of vent tubes that are a few feet in length include an arrangement in which the vent tube's distal end is attached to an accessory article, such as a user's back pack, or when the vent tube's distal end is placed within a gas mask that the user is wearing.

[0022] Herein is an introduction to the performance of a mouth operated liquid dispenser with a brief detail of force and weight explained. A column of water with an area of 1 square inch and 27.7 inches high produces a weight of 1 pound. This can also be referred to as 1 pound per square inch (1 psi) of pressure that is being exerted on the 1 inch square portion of the column. If a 1 inch square column of water is held stationary at a level of 27.7 inches, by a partial vacuum, then a negative force of 1 psi would be required to hold the position of the liquid. A column of water that has ¼ square inch area and 27.7 inches high has a water weight of ¼ of a pound or 113.5 grams but the pressure would equate to 1 psi. So every additional 27.7 inches of water height in a tube equals an additional 1 pound per square inch.

[0023] The internal area of a liquid tube multiplied by its length will provide a volume that can be equated into a weight that a mouth operated liquid dispenser must hold in order for a liquid to maintain a given level in a liquid dispenser or liquid tube. For example; if a liquid tube has an internal diameter of 0.250″ it has a volume of 0.04908 square inch. Multiply the area by the tube length, as an example 40 inches, 0.04908×40=1.9632 cubic inches. In the previous paragraph it is shown that one pound of water occupies a volume of 27.7 cubic inches. Therefore the weight of water in the tube is (1.9632 divided by 27.7) 0.0708 pounds or 32.17 grams. The force exerted by this 40 inch column of water is (40 divided by 27.7) 1.44 psi. The liquid dispenser of the present invention will hold a negative 12 feet column of water in a 0.250″ diameter tube for over 24 hours. This equates to a water weight of 115.86 grams or a force of 5.19 pounds per square inch. Since 1 cubic centimeter has a volume of 1 gram of water, the liquid dispenser held a volume of 115.8 cubic centimeters of water. If a rigid container hydration system is mounted in a bicycle water carrier the liquid tube may reach 60 inches in length. To maintain a water level in a liquid dispenser of the above example the liquid dispenser must hold a negative static pressure of 2.17 psi.

[0024] In an embodiment of the invention, a relatively long, internal, and hollow rigid tube is coupled to the underside of the lid by means of a relatively short, intermediate, and pliable hollow tube. These two tubes are connected in series, they extend from the bottom of the lid inside the container, and the heavier rigid tube is the lower of the two tubes in this series tube connection. The rigid tube and its series joined pliable tube have a total assembled length that is slightly shorter than the corresponding internal depth of the container. The rigid tube is selected to have a mass or weight that causes the relatively short pliable tube to flex and bend when the container is tilted off axis. This construction allows the rigid tube to pivot or move off axis, so as to reach the lowest area of the container reservoir, in the event that the axis of the generally tubular shaped container is tilted or rotated to a non vertical position.

[0025] At the internal lid location whereat the top end of the pliable tube couples with the underside of the lid, a first passageway is provided through the lid to allow liquid to pass through the lid from the container. The lid also includes a second opening or passageway that allows ambient pressure air to pass from outside the container to the inside of the container. This second opening has an external hollow vent tube attached thereto on top or outside of the lid. A container internal vent tube may also be connected to this second passageway on the underside of the lid, although this tube is not required. When such an internal vent tube is provided, the tube's lower end, inside the container, is positioned near the top of the container, rather than at or near the bottom of the container.

[0026] Two externally-extending hollow tubes comprising a liquid tube and a vent tube are attached to the two above-described lid passageways that are on the top or outside of the lid. The bottom end, or lid end of the liquid tube, is attached to the first lid passageway, this first passageway also being coupled to the serially-arranged pliable tube and rigid tube that extend generally to or near the bottom of the container. The bottom end, or lid end, of the vent tube is coupled to the second lid opening or passageway.

[0027] A mouth operated liquid dispenser is attached to the top end of the liquid tube that is attached to the end of the liquid tube that is located opposite of the container. A filter containing a cap or member is positioned on the top end of the vent tube, again this top end of the vent tube being the tube end that is opposite the container. In an embodiment of the invention, the vent tube and the liquid tube are both flexible, both extend along a common path, and they are physically joined, bound together, or connected together, along a majority portion of the length of the two tubes.

[0028] The mouth operated liquid dispenser of a human hydration system, in accordance with this invention, is attached to the flexible liquid tube and to the vent tube at the top end of the two tubes, that is the end that is opposite the container reservoir. The mouth operated liquid dispenser is constructed and arranged to be placed in the user's mouth, and liquid is drawn from the interior of the container to the user by the liquid dispenser being deformed by way of a biting action.

[0029] A pliant section or member of the liquid dispenser includes a first internal cavity defined by four side wall members an open inlet side and an enclosing wall opposite the inlet side. The inlet wall has a generally flat inner surface facing the cavity and two angled planes on the exterior surface. The angled planes form a truss shape to the outer surface of the enclosing wall. A slit through the enclosing wall forms a passage which liquid or air can flow when the liquid dispenser is deformed by a biting action on opposing side wall members. Liquid can then be drawn from the interior of the first cavity, and from the hard liquid container, to the user's mouth by the user sucking to create negative pressure within the container. Air can also be drawn into the interior of the first cavity which will cause the liquid to return to the hard container by deforming the liquid dispenser breaking the slit seal.

[0030] The above-mentioned pliant member preferably also includes a second cavity that removably receives a relatively small air filter element, this second cavity including open slits or openings that communicate to the ambient air that surrounds a portion of the pliant member that is external to, but relatively close to, the user's mouth.

[0031] In an embodiment of the invention, the liquid dispenser preferably includes a rigid member having two generally parallel through passageways. The lower end of this rigid member mounts the upper end of the fluid tube in communication with the passageway of the rigid member in a relatively permanent manner, and also mounts the upper end of the vent tube in communication with the second passageway in a relatively permanent manner. The upper end of this rigid member removably receives the above-mentioned pliant mouth piece, and when the pliant mouthpiece is so mounted thereon, the first passageway is placed in communication with the first cavity of the pliant mouthpiece and the second passageway is placed in communication with the second cavity of the pliant mouthpiece.

[0032] The pliant member within the liquid dispenser of this invention also includes a generally annular physical stop member that protrudes from the pliant member, and that operates to prevent inserting the pliant member either too far or too shallow into the user's mouth, thus insuring proper operation of the liquid dispenser. This protruding stop member is also designed to increase the sealing of the user's lips to the liquid dispenser, this end result being extremely important in cold and dirty environments. The protruding stop member is also designed to prevent accidental swallowing of the liquid dispenser, such as may occur in the case of a sudden trauma, such as a bicycle accident or a hiking/skiing fall.

[0033] In an embodiment of the invention, the above-described liquid dispenser consists of two plastic members, one being a pliable member and the other being a rigid member. The pliable member provides a section or cavity that houses the air filter, as well as a mouth piece section that is adapted to be placed in the mouth of the user. The rigid member is constructed to enable the above-described fluid tube and vent tube to be joined thereto. The pliable member is removably coupled to the rigid member and its fluid tube, so that the pliant member can be easily removed from the rigid member; for example, for cleaning, maintenance, and filter replacement. In addition, since the pliant mouth member is easily removed from the rigid member, each user may have his or her own pliant mouth member, if common use of the mouth member by a number of individuals is not desirable.

[0034] Another advantage of the passive vent of the present invention is that the remote vent of this invention allows a hard container hydration system to be used in conditions in which prior hard container hydration systems with a lid vent, with a near container vent, cannot be used. Conditions of the type wherein the present invention finds utility are on the carrier of a mountain bike that is being used in muddy conditions, being positioned deep inside a backpack, and being positioned on a waist pack of firefighters or in biological or chemical hazardous situations, where the above-described liquid dispenser on the top of the liquid tube and the above-described air filter vent on the top of the vent tube can both be located within a sealed face mask of an individual firefighter, etc.

[0035] Another advantage of the hydration system of the present invention is that its hard container will not leak or puncture, which is common in bladder-type hydration systems. Yet another advantage is that the container of the present invention is capable of carrying different liquids, because the container is easily washed, and the material from which the container is made does not absorb the constituents of the liquid that is within the container. One such non-water fluid may be a carbohydrate drink that is used to replenish fluids, carbohydrates and minerals. In accordance with the spirit and scope of this invention, the four top ends of two liquid tubes and two vent tubes may be run into, or near, the mouth of the user as the opposite ends of the four tubes run into two different containers; for example, one liquid tube and one vent tube to a water container, and a second liquid tube and a second vent tube to a container that holds a carbo-loading liquid or drink.

[0036] Cleaning the human hydration system of this invention is as easy as placing it into a dishwasher or a sink. The hydration system of the present invention is not readily susceptible to outside trauma, puncture, or compression. The weight carrying impact on the user is minimized since this system can easily be balanced and transported at the user's waist instead of on the back, thus reducing spinal column compression.

[0037] Other objects, features, and advantages of the human hydration system of the present invention will become clear with reference of the accompanying drawings and descriptive matter in which they are illustrated and described preferred embodiments of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0038]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an embodiment of a human hydration system of the present invention, this embodiment having a unitary fluid tube and vent tube that extend from a fluid container lid to a mouthpiece that houses an air filter for the vent tube.

[0039]FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the human hydration system shown in FIG. 1.

[0040]FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the unitary fluid tube and vent tube of FIGS. 1 and 2, taken at line 3-3 of FIG. 2.

[0041]FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of another embodiment of a human hydration system of the present invention wherein the fluid tube and the vent tube comprise individual tubes that are not joined along their respective lengths, and where a second type of fluid tube is provided internal of the fluid container.

[0042]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a human hydration system of the present invention wherein a fluid tube and a vent tube extends from the bottom of the fluid container.

[0043]FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of a coaxially arranged fluid tube and vent tube for use in embodiments of this invention.

[0044]FIG. 7 is a perspective view of another manner of binding a fluid tube and a vent tube together, externally of the fluid container, in accordance with the invention.

[0045]FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a mouth-operated liquid dispenser for use in embodiments of this invention.

[0046]FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the liquid dispenser of FIG. 8, this view showing a pliant mouthpiece and a rigid member, with the pliant mouthpiece mounting the mouthpiece on one end, and with the pliant mouthpiece mounting the fluid tube and the vent tube at the other end.

[0047]FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of the FIG. 2 embodiment of this invention wherein the axis of the generally cylindrical fluid container has been tilted or rotated to illustrate the fact that lower rigid fluid tube pivots by a flexing action of the upper pliable fluid tube.

[0048]FIG. 11 is a partial cross section of another embodiment of an internal fluid tube having a corrugated and flexible upper portion that is for use in embodiments of this invention.

[0049]FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of the liquid dispenser of FIG. 8, this view showing the rigid member that mounts the pliant mount piece member, and this view also showing the air filter removed from the pliant mouth piece member.

[0050]FIG. 13 shows the present invention as used by a hiker or athlete in conjunction with a lumbar pack worn around the waist.

[0051]FIG. 14 is a view of FIG. 9 showing the mouth operated liquid dispensing face flexing under internal negative pressure whereas the through slit seal increases.

[0052]FIG. 15 shows another preferred embodiment of a mouth operated liquid dispenser of the present invention of FIG. 9.

[0053]FIG. 16 shows another embodiment of a mouth operated liquid dispenser of the present invention of FIG. 9.

[0054]FIG. 17 shows another embodiment of a mouth operated liquid dispenser of the present invention of FIG. 9.

[0055]FIG. 18 shows another embodiment of a mouth operated liquid dispenser of the present invention of FIG. 15. In this view the liquid dispensing face of the liquid dispenser is rotated 90° to previous views.

[0056]FIG. 19 shows another preferred embodiment of the present invention of FIG. 1. In this view the vent is proximal to the reservoir container and an independent liquid tube extends away from the container.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0057] Referring first to FIGS. 1 and 2, a human hydration system in accordance with this invention is generally referred to at 20. Hydration system 20 includes a hard, or rigid and hollow container or reservoir 22, generally in the shape of a cylinder, but without limitation thereto, having an closed bottom, and open top, and a generally vertically-extending central axis 120. A lid or cap 24 includes internal threads that mate with external threads that are provided on the cylindrical top portion of container 20. A rigid or generally inflexible and hollow liquid tube 26 and a flexible or pliant and hollow joining tube 28 are connected in fluid flow series. This series connected tube 26/28 is located internal of container 22, and is connected to the underside of a first lid passageway 44. An external flexible, or pliant and hollow liquid tube 30, and an external, flexible or pliant, and hollow vent tube 32 are respectively connected to the lid's first passageway, and to a second lid passageway 46.

[0058] Liquid 34, for example water, is contained within the reservoir that is formed by the interior cavity 36 of container 22. Container 22 is made from a rigid material that is easily washed, and will withstand the punishment of mountain biking, hiking, running, and other physical activities. A preferred material for use in making container 22 is a high density polyethylene, though other materials can be used including, but not limited to aluminum, glass, other rigid plastics or combination of plastics, fiberglass, wood or any material that will retain its shape when the interior cavity of container 22 is empty. Container 22 is hollow, having an internal reservoir 36 and a top-disposed container filling void or filling opening 38 through which fluid, or water, may pass into and out of container 22.

[0059] Lid 24 is formed of a rigid plastic and it covers and seals filling void 38 so that liquid 34 cannot leak out of container 22 through void 38. Lid 24 is coupled to close void 38 by way of mating screw threads 39 that are located on the outer diameter of cylindrical void protrusion 38 and on the inner diameter of lid 24. If desired, a seal member (not shown) can be provided between lid 24 and the top surface of container 22 to further prevent leakage.

[0060] Lid 24 includes a unique design that embodies two passageways, a liquid passageway 44 and a vent or air vent passageway 46 that pass through lid 24 from its top surface to its bottom surface. Physically extending away from the outer lid surface of cylindrical passageways 44, 46 are three generally parallel rigid and hollow tubular extensions 48, 50 and 52. As seen in FIG. 2, tubular extensions 48 and 50 extend upward from the top surface of lid 24, whereas tubular extension 52 extends downward from the bottom surface of lid 24. As seen, lower tube 52 forms an extension of upper tube 48.

[0061] While not shown, vent passageway 46 may be closed by a flexible flap valve that is located on the inner or bottom surface of lid 24 so as to normally close vent passageway 46. The flex characteristics of this flap valve are selected so that the valve will open to allow air to pass into container 22 whenever a partial vacuum is created within container 22, as by the user withdrawing a quantity of fluid from the container for hydration purposes.

[0062] Tubular extensions 48, 50 and 52, respectively, physically couple tubes 30, 32 and 28 to lid 24. Extensions 48 and 50 are positioned on the top of lid 24 and completely seal to the inner perimeter surface of tubes 30 and 32 to create a pressure fit that firmly mounts and holds the tube assembly 30/32 to the top of lid 24. Extension 52 extends downward from the bottom of lid 24 into the area of reservoir 36. Extension 52 firmly mounts and seals the inner perimeter surface of tube 28 to create a pressure fit that firmly holds tube 28 to the bottom of lid 24.

[0063] The shape of extensions 48, 50 and 52 is such that tubes 30, 32 and 28 fit tightly over the extensions in such a manner that no air or fluid can penetrate the extension to tube fitting. These extensions can, if desired, be formed as independent pieces, or members, but preferably extensions 48, 50, 52 are extensions that are formed integrally with lid 24, and that have a cross-sectional shape that is consistent with the cross-sectional shape of the tubing is firmly held in place relative to cap 24. A liquid dispenser 60 that is unique to the present invention is joined to the top ends of tubes 30 and 32, that is the tube ends that are located opposite lid 24.

[0064] Container internal pliable joining tube 28 is preferably made of a thin flexible material, preferably Poly vinyl Chloride. Preferably, tube 28 has an annular or circular cross section that creates a pressure fit over circular cross section extension 52. Similarly, container internal rigid liquid tube 26 has an annular or circular cross section, thus enabling the lower end of joining tube 28 to be stretched so as to create a pressure fit over the top and outer diameter top portion of rigid liquid tube 26, as shown.

[0065] Referring to FIG. 3, tubes 30 and 32 are shown as being integrally formed or extruded as a single member that is made of a flexible material, such as Poly vinyl Chloride. Tubes 30, 32 may be integrally formed or joined together as shown in FIG. 3, or alternatively, the two tubes 30, 32 may be made from separate tubing and be placed in a generally coaxial configuration as shown in FIG. 6, or the two tubes 30, 32 may be held together by the use of a woven metal or plastic sheath 63 as shown in FIG. 7.

[0066]FIG. 3 shows a preferred embodiment of joined liquid tube 30 and vent tube 32 along the major length of the two tubes. As discussed, and as is shown in FIG. 2, annular openings at the bottom ends of tubes 30 and 32 firmly fit over extensions 48 and 50.

[0067]FIGS. 4 and 5 show cross-sectional views of two alternate embodiments to a human hydration system 20 in accordance with this invention.

[0068]FIG. 4 depicts a liquid tube 30 and air vent tube 32 that are independent of each other along the majority of their tube lengths. FIG. 4 also depicts an alternate embodiment of a pliable joining tube 28 of FIG. 2 wherein the top portion of a joining tube 128 is corrugated in shape, and is formed as a separate part, or integrally with, a relatively rigid liquid tube 126. Mouth operated liquid dispenser 60 is seen attached to liquid tube 30. As previously described liquid dispenser 60 generally consiste of a rigid member and a pliable member. In this view liquid dispenser 60 is comprised of a pliable member only attached to liquid tube 30. The rigid member, as described in FIG. 8 and FIG. 9, is utilized when vent tube 32 and liquid tube 32 share a common end point.

[0069]FIG. 5 shows an alternate attachment location of the liquid and vent tube assembly 30/32 to the bottom surface of container 22, using the general tubular extension arrangement above described with reference to FIG. 2. In the FIG. 5 embodiment, both vent tube 32 and liquid tube 30 are attached to the bottom of container 22. It will be appreciated that this attachment position could also be at any location on the side wall of container 22.

[0070]FIG. 6 shows the use of two separate tubes 30 and 32 in a coaxial configuration wherein a smaller tube is threaded through a larger tube. Since the two tubes are dissimilar in diameter, one tube can be positioned in the internal void of the other tube. The internally-placed tube has a small outer diameter that allows a tubular shaped void to exist between the internal surface of the large diameter tube and external surface of the small diameter tube. Either the internal tube or the external tube can be used to draw liquid out of container 22, as the other tube operates as an air vent. However, it is preferred that internal tube 30 operate to draw liquid from container 22.

[0071]FIG. 7 is a view of two separate tubes 30/32 wherein the two tubes are joined by the use of a joining means, such as a woven metal or plastic sheath 63, that physically joins the two separate tubes 30/32 into a unitary tube assembly.

[0072]FIGS. 8 and 9 shows a preferred embodiment of the current invention and is best described viewing these figures collectively. FIG. 8 shows a perspective view of the mouth operated liquid dispenser, denoted as 60, of the current invention and FIG. 9 shows a cross sectional view of FIG. 8 as viewed by arrows denoted as 9-9.

[0073] Mouth operated liquid dispenser 60 is made up of two portions, a pliable portion 62 and a rigid composition member 64. Pliant member 62 is relatively flexible and can be stretched so that pliant member 62 can be releasably coupled to rigid member 64. Member 62 contains a first receptacal or cavity area 66 that receives liquid from liquid tube 30, and a second receptacle or cavity area 68 that releasably receives a small air filter element.

[0074] Annular extensions 116 and 118 extend parallel to each other from rigid member 64. Extension 116 couples with liquid tube 30 forming a seal with the internal surface of liquid tube 30 and annular ridges 112 extending from extension 116. Extension 118 couples with vent tube 32 forming a seal with internal surface of vent tube 32 and annular ridges 114 extending from extension 118. Annular extension 116 forms passage 108 which joins passage 120 of annular extension 121, both in rigid member 64, creating a flow route for liquid from liquid tube 30 to cavity 66. Annular extension 118 forms passage 110, of rigid member 64, which permits communication between vent tube 32 and air filter cavity 68 in pliable member 62. Pliable member 62 contains through slot 86, which allows air vent cavity 68 to communicate with air outside of pliant member 62. Pliable member 62 releasably seals to rigid member 64 with elliptical sealing members 96, 98, 102 and 104 of extension 121 and elliptical members 100 and 106. It should be noted that when vent tube 32 and liquid tube 30 do not share a common distal end then rigid member 64 is not required and pliable member 62 may attach directly to liquid tube 30.

[0075] Elliptical tactile stop member 90 comprises surface 92 and 94. Surface 92 contacts a user's mouth stopping over insertion of the mouth operable section forming cavity 66 in pliant member 62. The mouth operable section, denoted collectively as 89, is the portion of pliant member 62 that is inserted into a user's mouth and deformed with a biting action allowing either liquid to flow from the liquid container through liquid dispenser 60 or outside air to flow into liquid dispenser 60 into the liquid container. Section 89 is composed of four wall members and top liquid dispensing wall member. Wall members 70 and 72 can be seen opposing wall members 74 and 76. Outer surface 78 and 80 of top liquid dispensing wall member joins and extends from wall members 70 and 72, respectfully. Surface 78 and 80 are angled outward in a truss-like manner joining flat surface members 81 and 82. Bisecting surface 81 and 82 is through slit 83. Through slit 83 establishes communication from outside of member 62 with cavity 66.

[0076] Section 89 is shown in a relaxed state with no outside forces acting upon the section. The inner surface of liquid dispensing wall member consist of surface 84 and 85. Surface 84 and 85 define the top surface of cavity 66 and are separated by through slit 83. Surface 84 contains void 87 and surface 85 contains void 88. Void 87 and 88 are positioned parallel to through slit 83 and creates a weakened area in the liquid dispensing wall member. This weakened area creates hinge points from which the liquid dispensing wall member can pivot about increasing the closure seal of through slit 83. FIG. 14 shows section 89 under negative stress and further explains sealing of through slit 83.

[0077]FIGS. 10 and 11 show two alternate methods of providing flexible and weighted liquid tubes at the interior of container 22. In FIG. 10, a single flexible liquid tube 132 is interior of container 22, and the weight of tube 132 causes the lower open end of the tube to drop into the liquid 134 within container 22 when the container is tilted off axis. In FIG. 11, a single rigid tube 140 includes a top portion 141 that is made flexible by corrugation of a short section of the tube. Again, the weight of tube 140 causes the lower open end of the tube to drop into the liquid that is within container 22 when the container is tilted off axis. Both the FIG. 10 configuration and the FIG. 11 configuration provide that liquid will be drawn from container 22 regardless of the non-vertical orientation of the container.

[0078]FIG. 12 shows an exploded perspective view of a mouth operated liquid dispenser 60. Pliable member 62 and rigid member 64 may now be clearly viewed. Air filter 88 can be seen outside of cavity 86 (not seen). Through passage 120 and 108 for liquid communication to cavity 66 (not seen) can be viewed, as can passage 110 for vent air return.

[0079]FIG. 13 shows the current invention being worn by a hiker or athlete. This view shows container 22 positioned on the hip of the user and lid member 24 secured to container 22. Liquid tube 30 and vent tube 32 are seen traveling up the length of a user's torso connecting to mouth operated liquid dispenser 60. As seen, liquid level 34 in container 22 is significantly lower than liquid level 142 in liquid tube 30 close to liquid dispenser 60. The distance denoted as “X” shows a distance that liquid level 142 attempts to equalize to liquid level 34. Distance “X” may also be equated to a water weight and negative pressure that must be held by liquid dispenser 60 to maintain liquid level 142.

[0080]FIG. 14 shows the liquid dispenser as viewed in FIG. 9 with the exception section 89 is subjected to a negative static pressure created by liquid attempting to return to the container as described in FIG. 13. Only section 89 will be addressed, as all previous descriptions of FIG. 9 remain constant. In section 89 within cavity 66 arrow denoted as “x” shows direction of negative pressure. Surface 84 and 85 can be seen flexing about void 87 and 88, respectfully. In turn surface 78 and 81 pivot toward through slit 83 and surfaces 80 and 82 pivots against each other, thus enhancing the seal of through slit 83 preventing outside air from entering through slit 83. Air entering through slit 83 under this circumstance will cause liquid level 142, as described in FIG. 13, to return to the container reservoir, which is undesirable. There are circumstances where returning liquid to the container is critical to the performance of the present invention and to the user, as described in the preceding write up. Encountering these circumstances, the user need only to break the through seal 83 by a partial biting action on section 89. Air outside of pliable member 62 will enter through slit 83 occupying the area vacated of liquid returning to the container.

[0081]FIG. 15 shows another preferred embodiment of FIG. 9 of the present invention. Only section 89 will be addressed, as all previous descriptions of FIG. 9 remain constant. Section 89 is seen being placed under internal negative pressure as shown by arrow denoted as “x” and described in FIG. 13. The inner surface of the liquid dispensing wall member comprises surface 150 and 152 separated by through slit 83. Surfaces 150 and 152 are arcs inward toward cavity 66. The outer surface of liquid dispensing wall member comprises surfaces 154, 156, 158 and 160. Surface 154 and 156 arcs toward cavity 66 and surface 158 and 160 are positioned furthest of all surfaces to cavity 66. Through slit 83 separates surface 158 and 160. As internal negative pressure flexes liquid dispensing wall member, surface 158 and 160 can be seen pivoting against each other increasing seal of through slit 83. As described in FIG. 14, this increased seal prevents liquid from returning to the reservoir and by deforming section 89 compromising through slit 83 seal allowing air to enter cavity 66 as liquid moves in the direction of the container. Once through slit 83 seal is returned air will no longer enter cavity 66 and liquid level 142, as described in FIG. 13, will be maintained at its current level in liquid tube 30 or container 22.

[0082]FIG. 16 shows another embodiment of FIG. 9 of the present invention. Only section 89 will be addressed, as all previous descriptions of FIG. 9 remain constant. Section 89 is seen in a relaxed state with no external forces present. The inner wall surface of the liquid dispensing wall member comprises surface 162 and 164 separated by through slit 83. Surface 162 and 164 arcs outward from cavity 66. Outer surface 166 and 168 arcs outward from section 89 and is also bisected by through slit 83. Surface 166 and 168 will pivot against each other increasing the seal of through slit 83 as negative internal pressure flexes the liquid dispensing wall member inward toward cavity 66.

[0083]FIG. 17 shows another embodiment of FIG. 9 of the present invention. Only section 89 will be addressed, as all previous descriptions of FIG. 9 remain constant. Section 89 is seen in a relaxed state with no external forces present. The inner surface of the liquid dispensing wall member is flat and comprised of surface 170 and 172 separated by through slit 83. The external surface of the liquid dispensing wall member comprises flat surface 174 and 176. Separating surface 174 and 176 as a member arced outwardly from section 89. This arc is bisected by through slit 83 forming arced surface 178 and 180. As section 89 is stressed by internal negative pressure the liquid dispenser wall member will flex inward toward cavity 66 and arced surface 178 and 180 will pivot against each other increasing the seal of through slit 83.

[0084]FIG. 18 shows another possible variation to FIG. 15 with section 89 positioned 90° to the positioned as viewed in FIG. 15 and as denoted by dash lines. The function of liquid dispenser 60 is not compromised by positioning section 89 at any angle from 0° to 90° from liquid tube 30. This extended rotational range of section 89 shows versatility to liquid dispenser 60 and under some situations will allow the user a more comfortable position of liquid dispenser 60 to the mouth.

[0085]FIG. 19 shows an over view of the present invention as designed for a casual user. Vent 43 is located in lid 24 and a single tube 41 establishes fluidic communication between liquid in rigid container 22 and liquid dispenser 60. Liquid dispenser 60 is a pliable member attached directly to liquid tube 30. Though this version is created to be used under mild environmental conditions where a remote vent would not be necessary the performance of liquid dispenser 60 must function equally as well in maintaining liquid at any level in liquid tube 41.

[0086] It is well known that evacuation of liquid from a container tends to create a temporary partial vacuum within the container with this vacuum subsequently depleted by air flow into the interior of the container. As used in relation to containers in the claims hereinafter, the term “rigid” shall mean the characteristic of a material that allows a container made therefrom to not be totally collapsible upon evacuation of liquid from the container so that an air pocket is formed in at least a portion of the interior of the container. Thus, while it is acceptable but not mandatory to fabricate the container from a material which is totally inflexible, the container could be fabricated of a material that permits the container to partially collapse.

[0087] While preferred embodiments of the invention have been disclosed and discussed in detail, this detailed discussion is not to be considered as a limitation on the invention, but is only exemplary thereof. Accordingly, the invention should not be limited by the above disclosure, but only by the claims.

Referenced by
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Classifications
U.S. Classification220/709, 220/705
International ClassificationA45F3/16, A47G21/18, A47G19/22
Cooperative ClassificationA47G21/185, A47G19/2266, A45F3/16, A47G21/18, A61J15/0011, A61J15/0092, A61J9/006
European ClassificationA47G21/18M, A47G21/18, A45F3/16, A47G19/22B12