Last October I was tagged on Instagram in the post below, by a handle I didn’t recognize, Ultralight Jerk. Despite being the punchline, I thought it was funny and creative, as were the other dozen posts that were live at that time. Ultralight Jerk has continued to plug away, and now has nearly 3,000 followers. I interviewed the hiker(s?) behind it to get a fuller story.
Q | What was the impetus for Ultralight Jerk, and has your motivation evolved since the start?
A | I don’t know what impetus means but it started because r/ultralight_jerk sucked and I knew it would do better on Instagram. We started out wanting to roast ‘celeb’ hikers, but it turns out that most people don’t know who Andrew Skurka is and that REI memes get mad likes.
Q | Oh, it’s “we”? How many are behind the curtain, and how do you guys collaborate?
A | Yes, the Ultralight Jerk is a brain trust of experienced and accomplished backpackers from across the U.S who met as a part of the first trial group for Ray Jardine’s blood cleanser. We do your finances, convince you to buy cars, take care of your pets, defend you from enemies abroad, ensure your food supply and run an unsuccessful hot dog cart in Des Moines, Iowa. The only thing we don’t do is hike….like, ever…
Q | Why “contribute” in this way, rather than, say, share what you’ve learned, like so many others do?
A | Ultralight Jerk contributes the gift of laughter to what is otherwise the boring, anal retentive, and obsessive hobby of gram counting and internet debating. While Ultralight Jerk publishes to their own blogs, websites, and instagrams and enjoys the discussions around UL, it just gets so stale sometimes. ULJ is just injecting some fun into this snoozefest after enduring years of boredom at the hands of BPL. We are the new breed…of the 1″ inseam.
Q | Have you received much push back, or have you been wholly greeted as a breath of fresh air?
A | The response from the community has been largely positive, but there are some bad apples out there that think this platform is here entirely to make fun of certain hikers. We get a lot of requests to ‘burn’ so-and-so or to roast a certain well known hiker in very derogatory ways. There are also some people who seem sour that there is some kind of “ULJ insiders club” when really it’s just me trying to make people laugh.
Q | That implies you have some limits in the type of humor or subject matter. What would you consider “going too far”?
A | Ultralight Jerk is satire. It has limits and those limits have made a couple people go off and do their own distasteful ultralight meme pages where they had no limits (they all failed). We pick up on all the same things our readers and their friends joke about in their group chats, we just make it public. There are no limits on Buschcrafters. I’d like to publicly thank them for providing so many free laughs.
Q | Is UL jerk some part of your “adventurepreneurial” aspirations and you’ll monetize it someday, or are you committed to forever poking fun of those who have?
A | It really all depends on how the hot dog cart pans out….Des Moines is fickle about their encased meats. If that doesn’t work out I will turn to gear companies and become a paid shill i guess, seems to work well for the famous ones. As for continuing to poke fun of those who have? As long as people keep showing their impetus, we will be there to burn them. I seek no fame or pennies from this. As I write this, there’s plans to get UL Jerk themed slogan stickers made and all of the funds from them will be donated to a trail organization. We are clothed in the richest cuben fibers, what more could we want in life?