Bike, paddle, climb and more at REI Fit City Campout

Participants in last year’s annual REI campout ride mountain bikes. This year, REI is teaming with the Lower Colorado River Authority and Fit City to put on the Fit City Campout on April 28-29. Photo courtesy REI

I prefer a sleeping bag in a tent to high threadcount sheets at a fancy hotel, especially when I can roll out of that tent the next morning, jump into a river or go for a run. And eat a yummy breakfast.

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That’s all on tap at the upcoming Fit City Campout, set for April 28-29 in Johnson City.

Fit City is partnering with REI and the Lower Colorado River Authority to put on the campout at Pedernales River Nature Park in Johnson City, a 220-acre piece of Hill Country heaven about an hour’s drive northwest of Austin.

We’re planning an entire day of fun, outdoorsy stuff (my fave!), from guided mountain bike rides, kayaking, rafting, standup paddleboarding and rock climbing to fishing, hiking and swimming. We’ll have star gazing Saturday night, and I’m going to lead a (non-competitive) 5K trail run Sunday morning, too.

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Lots of local companies are getting involved, including Kammok, which will set up a hammock lounge in the trees near the river, and PackIt Gourmet, which will serve up some of its backpacker’s breakfasts on Sunday morning. Subaru is providing dinner on Saturday, and we’ll have live music and s’mores around the campfire, too.

The family friendly REI Fit City campout is set for April 28-29 at Pedernales River Nature Park in Johnson City. Photo courtesy REI

Never camped before? Not a problem. The event is designed to help you get comfortable pitching a tent, setting up camp and diving into some cool outdoor activities. My motto has long been “get your hair wet,” and by that I mean don’t sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else have fun. This is your time to have fun, too.

Gear for the activities will be provided; participants must bring their own tents, coolers and camping supplies, including sleeping bags, pads and pillows.

REI traditionally hosts a campout each spring. This marks the first time the Austin store has partnered with other companies to put it on.

“The primary goal has always been to give multi-faceted time outdoors and a good introduction to camping confidently, even for people who have not had previous experience,” says Ivey Kaiser, outdoor programs and outreach market coordinator at REI in Austin.

Pedernales River Nature Park is one of more than 40 parks that LCRA operates along more than 600 miles of the Colorado River between the Hill Country and Matagorda Bay.

“This is a rare chance to spend the night in a park that is normally open for day visitors only,” says Drew Pickle, manager of business and product development at LCRA. “I’m looking forward to paddling, campfire cooking, and listening to some live music at the campout with other folks who enjoy being in the outdoors.”

The campout kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday April 28 and finishes at 10 a.m. Sunday. Cost is $79 per REI member ($89 for non-members). Kids 6 and under are free. Registration includes all activities, plus dinner provided by Subaru on Saturday and breakfast from PackIt Gourmet on Sunday. Sign up here.

“It is going to be a beautiful setting next to the Pedernales River, with lots of options for activities and relaxation as well. It’s a great opportunity to reconnect with family or have some downtime in a pristine Hill Country environment,” Kaiser said.