Out of curiosity I did a quick worldwide patent search to see if anyone had patented any interesting hiking bench designs. There wasn't much out there, but I did find a 1998 PCT application from Harken Italy that disclosed a really fancy hiking bench.
The PCT application has been designated for regional patents in a bunch of countries, notably the US, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. It has only issued as an actual patent in Australia but it has entered the examination process in the US. Here's an excerpt from the description of the invention:
The seat 3 is mounted on the frame 2 for pivotal movement about a horizontal pin 4, so that it can take different angular positions relative to the frame 2 (Figures 2 and 3). Arranged to act between the seat 3 and the frame 2 are means of adjusting the angular position of the seat 3 on the frame 2. These means comprise a first rope 5 which is made fast, i.e. tied, with one end to the seat 3 and led through a set of blocks 7 to a first jam cleat 6 mounted on the seat 3.
As shown in Figures 2 and 4, this equipment 1 also includes sense means 8 for measuring the pulling effort exerted on the first rope 5 by the trainee. These sense means 8 are connected, through one 7a of the blocks 7, to the first rope 5, and by electric cables 11 to a processing unit 12.
The processing unit 12 contains processing means 9 adapted for processing the force signal from the sense means 8, to compute a numerical value for the torque applied to the seat by the trainee. These processing means 9 are connected electrically to indicator means 10 which show the processed numerical value on a display. The visual indicator means 10 may be complemented or replaced by sound means, such as a horn or alarm which would emit a tone upon a given value of the measured quantity being reached. In a more elaborate modification, not shown, the processing means could be a computer complete with a display screen, in addition to or instead of the indicator means; in this modification, the computer could be utilized to display more sophisticated information, such as diagrams, graphs, etc..
The seat 3 is provided with reset means for the processing means 9. Specifically, a pushbutton 14 is provided on the side surface 13 of the seat 3 which is connected to the processing means 9 by electric cables 15, and allows the trainee to zero the display of the indicator means 10 whenever appropriate.
The seat 3 has in cross-section, taken on a perpendicular plane to the pivot pin 4, substantially the shape of a portion of a transverse section of a sailboat, in the example shown, of a Laser Class sailing dinghy. Means are provided on the seat 3 for holding down the feet of the trainee accommodated on the seat 3 with his feet resting on a flat surface 16. These means comprise a footstrap 17 secured with one end to the seat 3 by a snap shackle 18, and connected with the other end to a second rope 20 led by a further block 19 to a second jam cleat 21 (Figure 1).
Also mounted on the frame 2 is a cushion pad 22 as a protection for a falling trainee. Arranged between the frame 2 and the seat 3 are elastic stays 23 effectively acting against the means of adjusting the angular position of the seat 3 on the frame 2 to hold the seat 3 in position when no athlete is sitting on it.
I think the most interesting feature is the adjustable angle of the seat. I can do without the torque sensor that measures the sailor's hiking force and the sensor to measure the force on the mainsheet although it would be interesting to see how much force a sailor can generate when hiking.
There is also an expired US patent from the 1970's on a very elaborate sailing simulator from a Japanese company.
There's no way that I am going to build anything like that.