Zack Giffin is best known to the world as the carpenter host of the TV show, Tiny House Nation. Yet before Netflix upended his reputation, he was known as an uncompromising freeskier from the Pacific Northwest. The middle of three brothers who grew up in Gold Hill, CO, he moved to Mt Baker, WA with younger brother Sam in the winter of 2003. Securing jobs at the mountain, the two brothers started making a name for themselves producing short films under the production title “Right on Brother Productions”. It wasn’t long before Zack’s blend of acrobatic ability and backcountry experience made him a standout in the area and a favorite partner of local photographer Grant Gunderson. This partnership led to many journeys around the globe, lots of exposure in publications, and eventually invitations to ski for big-budget production companies.
Although it was Zack’s skill as a carpenter that got him hired for the TV show, it was skiing that drew him to simplistic living with an appreciation for mobility. As a teenager, Zack and crew took many ski trips throughout the western United States and Canada. Sleeping in vans, trucks, and pop-up trailers, they explored the parking lots of remote areas during the coldest depths of winter. Those experiences lead to a series of modified vehicles that were all customized for parking lot lifestyle. When Zack first saw a picture of a Tiny House, he instantly recognized it as a truly comfortable space that could be brought to relatively remote areas. Like a portable base camp, equipped for long periods spent engaging in adventure, it was the furthest evolution of the ski bum dream and Zack jumped right in.
With the help of sponsor Outdoor Research, Zack built his first Tiny House in the fall of 2011 and set out on three years of near-constant travel, producing short videos for what would become known as the "OR Tiny House Tour". As a culmination of these experiences, Zack's brother, Sam, produced a short film entitled “Livin Tiny” which received wide distribution on YouTube. This film was viewed by some television executives in New York City. In 2014, while camped in the Asulkan Parking lot on Rodgers Pass, BC, Zack got a phone call asking when he could be on a plane. He flew out the next week and the rest is history.
Zack believes the Tiny Home movement is one of the most important and attainable elements of the overall environmental movement. It’s really part of a larger conversation about how we design our cities to cope with our current environmental and social challenges. Many of the same zoning laws that limit the use of Tiny Homes, also impede efforts to improve the affordability and energy efficiency of our cities. This is why he has become not only a passionate advocate for Tiny Homes but also involved in the greater discussion about affordable housing, homelessness, and zoning policy. In 2015 Zack became involved with a non-profit called "Operation Tiny Home" that was dedicated to supporting the construction of Tiny Home Villages for homeless veterans. Since then, he has taught workshops to groups of veterans in 16 different states. The program has expanded to include Native American communities and women's shelters. Most recently he formed a down payment assistance program that is available to any local hero regardless of military service.
In 2018 Zack joined the board of the Tiny Home Industry Association and now serves as the Vice President. Through this, he has been invited to speak with the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Affairs in Washington, DC, the National Convention of Mayors in Miami, and the Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas. He has become somewhat of a de facto spokesman for the Tiny House Movement and it's a role that he passionately embraces. Although it’s a diverse group with various motivations, at the core there is a unifying appreciation of minimalism. Simply put, it’s a movement of people who believe that having excessive stuff in your life does not lead to happiness. We all have a different idea of "excessive" but as we look towards a future where the only certainty is the need to adjust our impact on the planet, exploring ways for more people to live in less energy-intensive ways is a big part of the solution. As a person with a platform for influence, he sees it as a personal responsibility to do the best he can to spread the message in a positive, approachable way.
2011 Cover of Powder Mag
2011 - 2014 OR Tiny House Tour Director
2013 Director "Winter's People"
2014 Feature Athlete in "Valhalla", Sweetgrass Productions
2015 Feature Athlete in "Ruin and Rose", Matchstick Productions