Save some trees friend, and put that paper towel away next time you make your jerky. Little bits of fat on the ends of your jerky dry out nice and fine, they have a similar(ish) texture to the dried meat and are sopping with your tasty marinade! I may be in the deep south but I'll tell you what, that fat tastes mighty good! Plus, if you're actually taking it backpacking, that's like a solid hunk of quick energy. Fat is good!! If you're just making jerky for fun, then yes, it's definitely healthier to sop up that fat, but that's good stuff when out on long trips.
I don't know how it effects shelf life. Probably negatively, but as previously mentioned, good jerky won't sit there long anyway.
Also, increase you jerky's unfrozen life with a couple silica packets (like you find in the corporate jerky), they soak up moisture to prevent aging and bacteria growth on those fine pieces of meat we all love. Freeze till the big day, toss a packet in while they thaw to deal with those moisture issues, and if you don't eat it all before you get to the trailhead, switch out the packet after they've thawed to deal with any problems while you're out.