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?
Love ULJ! It has provided some much-needed comic relief to an otherwise over-the-top, yet well-intentioned, community. Glad you see the humor in it as well!
ULJ is gold. I discovered it a few weeks ago and just started scrolling through everything they’d (s/he’d?) posted. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard. My kids kept asking me what was so funny, but the jokes are so inside it was hopeless trying to explain them.
Almost worth returning to social media again…almost
Personally this one is still my favorite:
I’m curious about the hotdog stand? Any more info on that?
I barely made it to Facebook. Instagram is too “out there” for me. And the answer to ULJ’s question is obvious.
Man, Andrew… the reality is that UL philosophy is so costly. What started as a new philosophy towards maximizing distances became a social-class marker on the trail. Then snobbery took over. I did not know that ULJ was around and this interview made me laughed. Thanks!
I just don’t see how this is true. My MLD pack costs the same as the average Osprey. My Gossamer Gear shelter, $300…pretty normal. My quilt, $300, less than the cost of most high-end bags. Yes, the DCF stuff can get pricey quick, but even then I’ve seen plenty of high end traditional gear of comparable cost.
YouTube is full of videos on budget ultralight. AFAICT, the “snobbery” is more of the form, “My base weight is 7.8 pounds!”
Thank God for ULJ. I was just about to give up on backpacking because people took this shit so seriously. It is, after all, a recreational activity. Thanks for being open minded enough to do this post.
I dunno about this person’s commitment to the lifestyle. That last pic of an “ultralight” backpack has at least four more inches of strap that could have been trimmed off.
Amazing. Thank you for bringing this into my life.
The Onion goes UL!
Beers 🍻 to Skurka for having a sense of humor – Prost! 🍻
This would be funnier if you didn’t only post stuff that favors you.
I recall your post linking the article in which the female author raved about your handsomeness, and her ardor for you.
You said you posted it only because it was funny, as I recall.
Damn, Andrew! If you need some attention, do something deserving of our attention!
Hotel reviews, freaking KEYBOARD reviews, reviews of people mentioning you on Instagram?!
Lord man, get a grip!
I apologize for the above comment. It was out of line.
I sometimes forget the difference between a blog and a forum, I think.
I love being light and at times, buy ultra light gears but also think it’s ridiculous how serious some people get about gram counting. I have to thank ultralight jerk for laughs. it is so true!
It’s good to have people in the hobby who can step back and not take it too seriously. It’s easy to get caught up counting grams. ULJ is definitely a much needed reality check sometimes. having fun and not carrying an insane amount of stuff don’t have to be mutually exclusive!
ULJ makes me wish to fasten a stolen beer keg to a pack frame, saw the top off, add hinges, fasten a camelbak to the tap system, and go hike with it.
Even more than I want to drink water out of a Hershey’s syrup bottle.