Brian Mann, who reported on rescuers seeing more people venturing into the wildnerness unprepared, is an experienced hiker and paddler who contributes to outdoor magazines. Here's his basic checklist for traveling and playing safe when the park you visit is bigger than Central Park.
1. Prepare to spend the night
You don't need to have a tent or a sleeping bag, but think about what happens if you get stuck out there. Are you ready to survive?
2. Always bring a flashlight or a headlamp
If you're running a little late and darkness falls, losing the trail becomes a real danger. Having a light source can save your life.
3. Bring matches or a lighter and know how to use them
Knowing how to build a fire is one of the most important skills in the backcountry.
4. Dress for the conditions you'll face where you're going, not the conditions at home
If you're climbing a mountain, it'll be colder, windier and more exposed than in your driveway.
5. Tell someone where you're going
Also, when you'll be back and make sure they know what to do (i.e. call 911) if you're not home at a reasonable time.
6. Bring a lot more water than you think you'll need
Seriously, a lot more. Dehydration is deadly in the desert but it's also deadly in the cold. Extra power bars or trail mix for emergency snacking are also a great idea.
7. Don't wear cotton, even if it looks awesome
When it's wet from rain or sweat, a cotton t-shirt can wick warmth away from your body. Wool or synthetics will keep you dryer and safer.
8. Don't trust your cell phone
You think it'll bail you out, but if your battery dies, you can't find a signal, or it breaks, you're in big trouble.
9. Do a little research and networking
Learning about a cool hike on Facebook or Instagram isn't enough to know what you'll actually face out there. Print out maps and simple trail instructions, talk to park employees and other hikers.
10. Have the right gear, which mostly means having the right footwear
If you're wearing flip-flops or heels, you're probably putting yourself in actual danger. But being prepared with the correct gear is essential too for safety and comfort.