Unexpectedly Intriguing!
12 November 2021

Winter has returned to the IIE team's corner of the world, which has put us into the mind of venturing out to the nearest double-black diamond sledding hill and going on some breakneck runs.

But who wants to carry a sled out all the way out to their version of Suredeath Hill? It's hard enough climbing up to the top with all the snow and ice, much less having to drag a heavy sled up the hill too.

That's why we were excited to come across U.S. Patent 5,573,256, in which inventor Brent Farley solves the problem with his innovation of sled pants, the sled you can strap onto the outside of your snow trousers. Here's the description of the related art from the patent, which exactly explains what problems Farley's sled pants are intended to solve:

In areas where sledding and tobaganning down a hillside is part of winter enjoyment, it is particularly burdensome on the individual to drag or carry a sled or tobaggan (hereinafter "sled(s)") to the top of a hill or carrying the sled is known to be tiresome and detracts from the enjoyment of the sledding activity.

Depending upon the geometry and configuration of the sled, the work associated with dragging or carrying the sled can differ. For example, some individuals prefer to go sledding with a simple sheet of cardboard; while others use a saucer or dish-like sled and some use a conventional sled with runners as their sled of choice.

Until now, a sled capable of being attached to the body of the user and worn before, during, and after a downhill sled run, has not been invented.

But now it has and what a thing of glory it is! Here are all the figures from the patent illustrating Farley's concept of sled pants:

U.S. Patent 5,573,256: Figures 1 through 5

We were sold and went shopping for it, but sadly, did not find it for sale anywhere. We did however find the next best thing, consisting of just the seat portion of Farley's innovation being marketed under the name "Ski Buns", but alas, Amazon reports the product is unavailable at this writing.

So it looks like we'll be dragging the old sled back out after all.

To close on a side note, the U.S. Patent and Trademark issued U.S. Patent 5,573,256 on 12 November 1996, exactly 25 years ago! This is the first time we've celebrated an invention on the anniversary of its patent being issued.

From the Inventions in Everything Archives

The IIE team has previously covered the following inventions that seem especially appropriate to revisit for the season:


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