Fill the biggest black garbage bag you can find.

GET A LITTLE WHITE GARBAGE BAG from beneath your sink. Jam the black bag’s contents into the little bag until you can read headlines through the strained white plastic. That’s how some of us pack briefcases—10 pounds of potatoes in a 5 pound sack. It may be why my messenger bag is riddled with holes and sealed with baling twine.

Like many former Peace Corps Volunteers, I brought home some neuroses. Every day I carry a bag with a Nalgene of water, emergency granola, freezer-bagged toilet paper, a pocket knife, a notepad and pen, and sometimes a headlamp — just in case the grid collapses on the way to my 2 o’clock.

Then comes the day’s gear: laptop, world canceling headphones, books and folders, a light shell, and other things. And the bag gets worked on daily six-mile walks to the office, monthly business trips, and at regular meetings and events.

A bag is only a keeper if it downplays my neuroses, functions as a portable office, and represents me well in a professional environment while reminding everyone in the room that my next appointment is outdoors.

When the complimentary Fishpond Sporting Club Collection Briefcase arrived, right away I noticed the aesthetic was right. It matched my favorite roller bag. The capacity and craftsmanship stood out, with 12 interior pockets, high-end components, extra padding and stitching on the handle, swivels on the adjustable strap, a pass-through slot for a luggage handle, and 915 cubic inch capacity. The bag is built to organize and carry mass.

When I started loading the Fishpond with my day’s provisions I just knew my Nalgene wouldn’t fit. But it did, easily. Even with everything in, empty pockets everywhere taunted me, called me out like Ali did Foreman. So I threw everything I had at it. Into every cranny I jammed pens, markers, sticky notes, cables, Filipino pesos, picks, books, and magazines I’ll never read.

The bag bulged. The zipper shined a toothy grin. “That all you’ve got?” Even fully packed, the briefcase was comfortable.

I cut the load down a bit for 30 miles of walking commutes. The shoulder strap is well-padded and has swivels to keep the strap from turning and cinching. (Note: You can carry a Nalgene on each end for long walks or on either end so the bottle doesn’t bang your arm.)

The packing job for my D.C. trip swelled the briefcase, but it still dropped over the luggage handle and got me easily to the counter. At security, my pocket contents went into my boots. My laptop was out of the large padded pocket in just a second. On the other side, the water fountain filled my empty Nalgene for the trip. Travel documents and a notepad fit in a pocket just inside the flap.

On the plane, the Fishpond stood discreetly under my knees and allowed easy gear access without sacrificing foot-room. The briefcase will fit under the seat in front of you, if you’re feeling compliant.

Within five minutes of sitting down in the East Coast office, I spilled a glass of water across the bag. The water just slid off the outer material. Inside, the lighter material, pockets, and my papers were dry. The briefcase’s heavy zippers and mix of compartments helped get my workspace up quickly each morning and down in about the time it takes a laptop to shut down. At week’s end, I wedged new files into the bag to the point of misuse. The zipper grinned again and got me through cabs, trains, crowds, and airports back to Austin in style.

Fishpond in Washington, D.C.

A stone’s throw from the National Mall, blue suits and burgundy shoes file through carved doors. Junior bureaucrats, aspirants, spit jabs at one another’s ill-formed half-windsors. Awestruck, they study the power ties crowded around the dark glossy table at the center of the room. Measured comments, each more important than any before or after, melt into blue carpet.

The Fishpond briefcase surveys the scene and addresses the shiny little man-purses that surround him, “Yeah, I do make this look good. But sorry, just passing through. My handler and I have to get back to the wilderness.”

The Fishpond Sporting Club Collection Briefcase ($219.95) is available in silt/pebble and canopy/earth and balances nearly conflicting demands of aesthetics and performance. They also offer a Messenger Bag ($149.95).