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I recently purchased a new laptop. This one is an investment as I intend to use it for consulting and moonlighting. I take my laptop with me commuting to and from work, as I've got opportunity during the commute to bring it out and do work. Since this laptop is an investment I want to do the best I can to protect it from damage. I put my laptop into my backpack, in the compartment built into the backpack for laptops. However, to be honest with myself, the backpack I've got is just the garden variety that you get at Sam's Club. It's a Swiss Gear backpack I got 4 or 5 years back. Yesterday I took a close look at the compartment for laptops and found that it really isn't well padded. The public buses and trains that I take to commute normally jostle a lot. Clearly the best thing to do would be to purchase a better backpack with proper padding. But, at least at the moment that exceeds my budget. Especially when I look at some of the brands out there where a really good backpack with good padding for laptops is around $200.
So, I'm wondering if there something I can put into my current backpack's laptop compartment which will give it good protection from the bumps I normally experience in my commute? I've thought of maybe using old clothes or a towel, but wonder if that would just leave lint that could go into the air vents of the laptop. What other material might I consider?