Caravan review: Hike RV Caravans Atom 172

Caravan review: Hike RV Caravans Atom 172 - Caravan World Australia

As the name suggests, the Atom 172 may be small but this single-axle couples van packs a punch in terms of aesthetic and offroad capabilities. 

Many indicators in the Australian caravan scene indicate that the industry has caught up with the post-COVID-19 extended delivery times. I was recently at Sydney dealer Everything RV (formerly New Age Caravans), and the yard had many brand-new caravans ready to go.

One of those vans was a Hike RV Caravans Atom 172. Hike RV Caravans is something of a new name in the Australian caravan manufacturing sector, established in response to shortages within the industry.

Hike RV Caravans might be a relatively new moniker but the van I chose for my review showed plenty of manufacturing experience. The Atom 172 is one of the smallest in the Hike range but plenty of other layouts and van lengths are available.

Striking appearance

First impressions are everything and the Atom 172 has a striking colour scheme. A lower waist of black alloy checkerplate underpins the metallic grey body colour. What catches the eye, though, is the striking gold and black decal scheme. There’s nothing like a van that stands out in the crowd. The only disadvantage of the darker colour scheme is that it will quickly show up dust and dirt. Under the colour is ALUCOBOND composite cladding and under that is a meranti timber frame, something the caravan industry is very much wedded to. 

A single-axle caravan, the Atom has an external body length of 5.33m (17ft 6in) and a tare mass of 2160kg. Having at ATM of 2800kg, gives a payload of 640kg. The two 95L freshwater tanks and the gas cylinders absorb about 240kg of that, leaving 400kg for everything else. 

 While still a relatively heavy van, the Atom 172 does have the benefit of not requiring something like a Jeep Grand Cherokee to tow it. Indeed, something like the Isuzu MU-X I was using is quite adequate. As always, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the loads going into both the caravan and the tow vehicle. Having 200kg in reserve is better than having vehicles right on their limits. On my little rough road excursion, the caravan was quite well-behaved and, being a shorter length, handled tight corners without a problem.

Steel work

Under the Atom 172, the chassis has a familiar look. Manufactured by SilverShine Chassis, the galvanised box section design has 150m x 50mm (6in x 2in) chassis rails and drawbar, along with a 50mm (2in) raiser. Like the caravan, the chassis structure is manufactured in Melbourne. As is the independent suspension, Shine XT, which is fitted with trailing arms, coil springs and dual Pedder shock absorbers. The 16in alloy wheels are fitted with 12in electric brakes.

On the first pass, the sub-chassis area looks less than orderly, but everything is where it should be. The two 95L freshwater tanks are located fore and aft of the single-axle wheels, and the 110L grey tank is right at the rear. All have galvanised sheet protection. In what is the position of choice these days, the two battery boxes are welded to the offside chassis rail. 

Upfront, the drawbar has all the usual accoutrements, including the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch, handbrake, centre-mounted jockey wheel and mesh stoneguard. Mudflaps below the stoneguard protect the lower body area. Included in the drawbar gear and standard these days is an alloy checkerplate storage box with two separate bins — the offside bin being dedicated for the two 9kg gas cylinders. At the rear, the 50mm x 50mm (2in x 2in) bumper bar sports just the spare wheel. 

Powering on

Come evening time, the Atom 172 is well-appointed with light fittings. Inside, in addition to the ceiling downlights and wall reading lights, all overhead lockers have semi-concealed strip lighting fitted above. Outside, the under-awning area has two wall fittings plus the usual grab handle. The fore and aft scene lights are a nice touch, handy for late evening arrivals/early morning departures. 

Options fitted to the Atom 172 include two 110Ah lithium LiFePO4 batteries and a third 170W solar panel in addition to the two standard panels of a similar rating. The result is a van that is well equipped for off-grid living. A BMPRO BatteryPlus35 battery management system handles the battery and solar charging. All the visible cabling to the BMS was neatly laid out and crimped.

Brassy look

For something a little different, my review van came with the optional Midnight package. So named because of the internal black cabinetry, brass drawer handles and plumbing fittings, including those in the shower cubicle. Like the exterior colour scheme, it’s a little something that catches the eye. Not everybody will be fan of the predominant black colour, but it does add a general touch of class to the interior. 

Despite having a length under 5.4m, the Atom 172 doesn’t have a particularly cramped interior. Helped by the forward entry door and the adjacent L-shaped lounge, there’s room to move around. The layout is standard, with a front island bed, offside kitchen, and full-width rear bathroom. 

Cooking and dining

The kitchen not only looks good, but it’s well equipped too. Starting with a decent-sized 188L Dometic three-way fridge and Aussie Traveller microwave oven, the other kitchen fitments include a Hawk four-burner hob and grill plus a square Cefito sink with both tank water and drinking water faucets. Given the lack of a drainer, the benchtop area is better than most and aided by a hinged extension at the bed end of the bench and a slide-out cutting board above the drawers. Two overhead lockers, one cupboard and five drawers supply a better-than-average storage capacity — a welcome feature in any van. Like the rest of the van, the overhead lockers have piano hinges and metal struts. 

Across the way from the kitchen, the L-shaped dinette is well upholstered and designed for very comfortable seating for two people. The table is mounted on a Nuova Mapa telescopic table leg and is easily shifted into a suitable position. Above the lounge are three overhead lockers and power points and reading lights at either end of the lounge. A floor locker door gives access to the under-seat area against the bathroom wall. 

Shelf space

In the van’s rear, the black and brass certainly dominate, but the shower cubicle, cassette toilet and wall-mounted washing machine are all white. A little different from most bathroom designs, there are no drawers. Instead, the storage area comprises a lone cupboard, shelving and overhead lockers. For something more creative than usual, the rack of mesh baskets adjacent to the shower cubicle is a different touch. As is the oval mirror behind the vanity cabinet.

Island bed

A benefit of the mid-door entry is that it allows for a decent walk space around the 1.85m x 1.53m (6ft 1in x 5ft) bed. In addition to the door, large windows on either side ensure plenty of ventilation.

The bedside cabinetry provides the complete kit of bedroom storage, including those pretty much standard pillow cubbies. The offside bedside cabinet does have a drawer, but the water heater takes up the lower space. Lifting the posture slat bed base gives access to the mostly empty under-bed area. 

Fine print

Hike RV Caravans offers a two-year structural warranty and a three-year chassis warranty. Components not manufactured by Hike RV Caravans carry the usual OEM warranty, usually 12 months. The manufacturer’s website is a bit light on warranty details. 

The bottom line

For a newish manufacturer, Hike RV Caravans has done a nice job of putting the Atom 172 together. It’s a good length for an offroad caravan. Small enough to handle narrower bush tracks, yet fitted out with all the essentials that a modern caravan has today. 



  • Doesn’t require a heavy-duty tow vehicle
  • Good lithium battery and solar panel capacity
  • Kitchen bench design


  • There seems a reluctance even for new manufacturers to move away from meranti frames


It’s not the cheapest van on the block but it’s packed with features and is designed for offroad use

The van tows quite well. The size and weight are suitable for a wide range of tow vehicles

Well designed for offroad travel but not an oversized van

Despite the relatively new manufacturer name, van is well put together.

For a relatively small van, the interior is quite spacious

Well kitted out with lithium and solar panel battery capacity. The usual limiter is the Thetford toilet cassette capacity.

Two-year structural and three-year chassis warranty 

Although the structure is good, there is nothing of particular note

Black and brass interior colour scheme



Body length 5.24m (17ft 2in)
Overall length 5.33m (17ft 6in)
Width 2.46m (8ft 1in)
Height 3.03m (9ft 11in)
Tare 2160kg
ATM 2800kg
Payload 640kg (calculated)
Ball weight 160kg
Ball to tare ratio 7.4% (calculated)


Frame Meranti timber
Cladding ALUCOBOND composite aluminium
Chassis 150mm (6in) rails and drawbar
Suspension Shine XT independent, with coil springs and dual shock absorbers
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Brakes 12in electric
Wheels 16in alloy
Water 2 x 95L freshwater, 1 x 110L grey water
Battery 2 x 110Ah lithium LiFePO4 batteries
Solar 3 x 170W
Air-conditioner Houghton Belaire 3400
Gas 2 x 9kg
Sway control No


Cooking Hawk 600 four-burner (3 x gas, 1 x electric) hob and grill
Fridge Dometic RUA6408X 188L three-way
Microwave Aussie Traveller microwave oven
Bathroom Thetford cassette toilet and separate shower
Hot water Swift 28L gas/electric

Hike RV Caravans Atom 172 price from $86,990


  • 2 x 110Ah lithium LiFePO4 batteries
  • Additional 170W solar panel (2 standard)
  • Stoneguard
  • Midnight Package (brass fit-out and black cabinets)

Hike RV Caravans Atom 172 price as shown $92,850


Everything RV
36 Dunn Road
Smeaton Grange NSW 2567
P: 1800 046 932


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