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Skyrim: The 7 Best And Worst Armor Sets

It's been years since Bethesda introduced players to the world of Skyrim. In that time, we've seen multiple remasters, ports, as well as the culmination of work from a tremendous and extremely talented mod community that has turned Skyrim from a typical open-world RPG to a gameplay sandbox unlike any other.

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Today, we're focusing solely on the armor sets in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Some of this game's armor sets are notorious for their appearance alone, while other armor sets have unique enchantments that aren't available elsewhere. While most of Skyrim's armor sets are viable on higher difficulties, some sets are far above the rest. Conversely, some armor sets offer next to nothing in terms of aesthetics or numerical stats to warrant wearing. Let's go over the seven best and worst armor sets you can find in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

Updated April 18th, by Charles Burgar: Ranking armor sets in a game like Skyrim is difficult. Most armor sets look incredible and offer solid stats when Smithing or Enchanting are used. We've overhauled this list entirely, replacing certain entries and adding stat breakdowns at the start of each entry. Armor sets are valued on their usefulness and aesthetic (explained in more detail below). 

How We're Ranking This List

There's much more to an armor set than its default armor rating. This list takes the following into account with each entry:

  • Armor Rating (without a shield)
  • Acquisition method
  • Enchantments (if any)
  • Tempering
  • Aesthetics

Overall, we're looking at the net benefits of using that particular armor set over something else, although the visual design of the armor has been taken into account. The "best" armor sets have a combination of excellent stats and a great aesthetic. The "worst" armor sets contain subpar stats compared to their competitors, or they're not worth the effort required to obtain them.

You can use whichever armor sets you want in Skyrim on any difficulty (especially if you use Smithing and Enchanting), but the best armor sets can do so much more easily than the worst entries.

Note: Skyrim has a hard armor cap of , if you're using a shield. Due to Smithing and Enchanting exploits, you can easily make any armor set in Skyrim reach this cap. We are not taking this into consideration for this list. If you want to use any armor set and reach this cap, read this guide.

One more note: armor sets are being ranked, not individual pieces. The Archmage Robes, Dragon Priest Masks, and other single-piece items are excluded from this list. Creation Club armor sets are also omitted. With that out of the way, let's get to ranking which armor sets are the best and worst.

14 Best: Dragonscale Armor

Dragonscale Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 82
  • Weight: 20
  • Value: 2,
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Crafting ( Smithing required); extremely rare world drop

The Dragonscale Armor is one of the most cost-effective light armor sets in the game, crafted from the bones and scales of dead dragons that litter Skyrim's landscape. The main reason why it's not higher on the list is its reliance on Smithing and Enchanting. Creating this armor set requires a Smithing skill of and the Dragon Armor perk. Since it comes with no enchantments, you'll need to invest in the Enchanting skill to make it a truly top-tier armor set. It is possible to find this armor as early as level 24, but its drop chance is so low that players can go multiple playthroughs without seeing a single piece of this set.

Dragonscale Armor also gets bonus points for being one of the cooler looking sets in Skyrim. It comes in with an armor stat of 82 without a shield, giving it the highest armor rating out of any light armor set in Skyrim. That number boosts up to a respectable with the inclusion of a shield. Dragonscale Armor provides a lot of protection and intimidation, but its low drop chance and Smithing requirement make it tough to obtain in the early to mid-game.

13 Worst: Imperial Armor

Imperial Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Heavy
  • Armor Rating: 60
  • Weight: 52
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Worn by Imperial soldiers

Imperial Armor isn't necessarily terrible, although it isn't terribly useful outside of the first few hours of a playthrough. Bethesda did a great job designing the armor sets in such a way that most of them do serve a specific purpose. In this case, the Imperial Armor set is the first armor set many Skyrim players will find in their playthrough.

It carries the same defensive statistics as Iron Armor but carries the advantage of being obtained much earlier. If you follow Ralof during the opening Helgen sequence, you can obtain this set by killing an Imperial captain on the main path. Imperial Armor also has the bonus of giving the player choices in terms of variety. There are three different helmets for this armor set, and each carries slightly different statistical variations. The Imperial Armor set is by no means atrocious: it just falls behind when higher-tier armor sets become available.

12 Best: Miraak's Robes

Miraak's Armor Set Stats

  • Armor Class: Light (Robes are considered Clothing; mask can drop as Heavy)
  • Armor Rating: 45
  • Weight: 
  • Value: 1,
  • Enchantable? No
  • Tempering? No
  • Obtained: Complete Solstheim's main quest


  • Miraak (Mask): Increases your Magicka by points.
  • Miraak's Robes: 15% spell absorption. Chance on hit to spawn a tentacle explosion.
  • Miraak's Gloves: 5% spell absorption (requires Miraak's Robes).
  • Miraak's Boots: 5% spell absorption (requires Miraak's Robes).

Miraak's armor set is unique in that its comprised of different armor types. The robes are considered clothing, the boots and gloves are light, and the helmet can drop as a light or heavy piece—determined by your proficiency in either tree. Its armor rating might be quite low and can't be further improved by tempering, but the enchantments on this armor set make it absurdly strong.

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Obtaining 25% spell absorption from an armor set is incredibly powerful, giving all spells and Shouts a 25% not to damage you whatsoever, granting you Magicka equal to the spell's cost. This can be further enhanced by obtaining the Atronach Stone and the Alteration tree's Atronach perk. With all three effects combined, you become completely immune to enemy spells and dragon Shouts. Not even enchantments can provide that level of power!

The tentacle explosion from Miraak's Robes is quite potent, dealing poison damage to any nearby enemies whenever you're hit. Even if your spell absorption is %, being hit by a spell or Shout can activate this perk, providing a sizable damage increase for aggressive mages. You do give up reduced Magicka cost on your spells, but becoming immune to every spell in Skyrim is more than worth the tradeoff.

11 Worst: Iron Armor

Iron Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Heavy
  • Armor Rating: 60
  • Weight: 46
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Bandits and world loot

Iron Armor is a set that doesn't really do much of anything. Its armor rating of 60 is about average, and the banded version of the armor doesn't offer much of an upgrade—sitting at an armor rating of

A huge and glaring problem with the Iron Armor set is that it doesn't benefit from Smithing perks, meaning it can't surpass Flawless tempering quality unless your Smithing skill exceeds Some will argue that its accessibility in the early game makes it decent. However, Steel Armor and Imperial Armor can be obtained just as early, both sets providing either better armor or weight values. Iron Armor becomes obsolete too quickly to warrant use unless you love the look of it. In that case, fortify your Smithing and turn this armor into the damage-absorbing beast it deserves to be.

10 Best: Deathbrand Armor

Deathbrand Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating:  (+ when the full set is worn)
  • Weight: 13
  • Value: 11,
  • Enchantable? No
  • Tempering? No
  • Obtained: Complete the "Deathbrand" quest


  • Deathbrand Helm: You can breathe underwater indefinitely.
  • Deathbrand Armor: +15 stamina per Deathbrand item equipped.
  • Deathbrand Gauntlets: 10% increased one-handed damage while dual-wielding per Deathbrand item equipped.
  • Deathbrand Boots: +10 carrying capacity per Deathbrand item equipped.
  • Deathbrand Set: + Armor

The Deathbrand Armor set provides powerful enchantments and an exceptionally high armor rating of  Wearing it as a full set provides you with tons of cool buffs, including increased carrying capacity and water-breathing.

Arguably the most unique part of the Deathbrand Armor is its enchantments. As you equip additional pieces of the armor set, the enchantments on certain items become much stronger. With a full armor set, you can expect +60 Stamina, +40 carrying capacity, 40% increased one-handed damage while dual-wielding, and the ability to breathe underwater.

The armor itself has an interesting design as well. It's a frosty blue hue that seems to be built based on a Nordic set. If you're looking for the Daedric Armor equivalent for light armor, you've found the right set.

9 Worst: Stormcloak Armor

Stormcloak Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 43
  • Weight: 14
  • Value: 32
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Worn by Stormcloak soldiers

For clarity, this is the default Stormcloak Armor that most soldiers use, not the Stormcloak Officer variant that's much better.

There isn't much going for this set besides its great aesthetic design. The set has an armor rating on par with Studded armor, lacks a shield, doesn't benefit from Smithing perks, and becomes obsolete once players start finding Leather Armor not even a few hours into their playthrough. The Stormcloak Armor set suffers from being an early game item that doesn't really progress beyond its beginnings. Unless you love representing the Stormcloaks or how it looks, there's virtually no reason to use this armor set.

8 Best: Ancient Shrouded Armor

Ancient Shrouded Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 72
  • Weight: 
  • Value: 2,
  • Enchantable? No
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Complete the "Locate the Assassin of Old" quest


  • Ancient Shrouded Cowl: Bows deal 35% increased damage.
  • Ancient Shrouded Armor: % Poison Resistance.
  • Ancient Shrouded Gloves: Sneak attacks with one-handed weapons deal double damage.
  • Ancient Shrouded Boots: Your footsteps are muffled.
  • Ancient Shrouded Set: +25 Armor

The Ancient Shrouded Armor set is unquestionably one of the best armor sets in Skyrim. It has an incredibly high armor rating of 72, weighs next to nothing, and has a great set of enchantments that any back-stabbing assassin would love. The sleek red and black design ensures that each assassination is stylish.

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As the Miraak set is best for mage characters, the Ancient Shrouded set is tuned towards stealthy characters that strike from the shadows. The increase to sneak damage makes this an excellent armor set to pair with stealth builds. Best of all, this armor set doesn't have any level scaling, meaning you can complete this mission at level one and obtain an endgame armor set. If you're playing a stealth build, few armor sets will serve you better than this.

7 Worst: Fur And Skaal Armor

Fur Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating:  (based on armor variants)
  • Weight: 
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Bandits and world loot

Skaal Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 46
  • Weight:
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? No
  • Obtained: Skaal villagers and Solstheim loot

We're including both the Fur and Skaal armor sets due to their identical stats. Both armor sets don't provide a lot of protection and don't scale well with Smithing. These issues are somewhat excusable due to how common Fur is, but this issue is inexcusable for Skaal Armor since it can't be tempered. Those interested in fashion will likely appreciate Fur's different armor variants and Skaal's winter-themed appearance, but the stats on both sets are so terrible that it's tough to recommend using them over other options.

6 Best: Nightingale Armor

Nightingale Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 69
  • Weight: 18
  • Value: 3,, (scales with level)
  • Enchantable? No
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Complete the "Trinity Restored" quest


  • Nightingale Hood: Illusion spells cost % less to cast.
  • Nightingale Armor: + Stamina. Increases Frost Resistance by %.
  • Nightingale Gloves: Lockpicking is % easier. One-handed weapons deal % increased damage.
  • Nightingale Boots: Your footsteps are muffled.
  • Nightingale Set: +25 Armor

On looks alone, the Nightingale Armor set is arguably the coolest looking light armor set in Skyrim. The cloaked face, cape attachment, and Nightingale engravings on the armor make it nothing short of a jaw-dropping armor set.

In terms of functionality, the Nightingale set offers some useful enchantments for stealth characters, tuned more towards thievery than assassinations. Similar to Daedric items, the Nightingale Armor set is stronger based on the level you obtained it. At level 32 and beyond, the armor set will have the most value and strongest enchantment values. It's tied to an absurdly long questline and might not compete with min-maxed Dragonscale Armor, yet the overall aesthetic and backstory with this set are so inspiring that it's hard not to love the Nightingale set.

5 Worst: Hide Armor

Hide Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 40
  • Weight: 9
  • Value: 95
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Bandits and world loot

The Hide Armor set is the worst light armor set in the game. It has the worst armor rating out of all light armor, doesn't benefit from Smithing perks, and is surprisingly uncommon when compared to Fur and Iron Armor. It's not even the best early game craftable set of armor. The Leather Armor set beats out multiple armor sets in the early game and can be crafted with ease. From an objective standpoint, this would be considered the worst armor set in the game if a couple of other sets didn't fall through so hard in regards to expectations and implementation.

4 Best: Ahzidal's Armor

Ahzidal's Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Heavy
  • Armor Rating: 87
  • Weight: 59
  • Value: 6,
  • Enchantable? No
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Found during the "Unearthed" quest


  • Ahzidal's Helm of Vision: Conjuration and Rune spells cost 25% more, but can be cast at a greater range.
  • Ahzidal's Armor of Retribution: Enemies who hit you have a small chance of being paralyzed.
  • Ahzidal's Gauntlets of Warding: Your Wards are 25% less effective, but absorb 50% Magicka cost from enemy spells (similar to spell absorption).
  • Ahzidal's Boots of Waterwalking: You can walk on water indefinitely. If four Ahzidal artifacts are equipped, +10 Enchanting.
  • Ahzidal's Ring of Arcana: Gain the Ignite and Freeze spells.
  • Ahzidal's Ring of Necromancy: Reanimated creatures you summon detonate when hit, dealing 50 points of Frost damage to nearby foes. The reanimated creature dies in the process.

Ahzidal's Armor set isn't necessarily eye-catching in its design, but it certainly packs a punch. The armor rating of this set is rather poor for heavy armor, but the enchantments on Ahzidal's Armor are incredibly powerful. Those that have invested in Smithing can easily fortify this armor set to the armor cap, negating one of the few negatives Ahzidal's has. If that wasn't enough, two jewelry pieces are also part of this set, which more than makes up for the lack of a shield.

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The effects gifted by this set are as follows: enemies who melee attack you have a chance to be paralyzed, water-walking, allow you to cast spells ignite and freeze, and if a creature you summon were to die in combat, it combusts while delivering Frost damage. This set does a lot beyond just protecting the player from massive heaps of damage and can be acquired fairly easily. If you play a spellsword or any melee build, give this armor set a try.

3 Worst: Ancient Nord Armor

Ancient Nord Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Heavy
  • Armor Rating: 60
  • Weight: 41
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Craftable at the Skyforge upon completing the Companions' main questline

In terms of rare usable armor sets, it's hard to beat the Ancient Nord Armor set. It can only be crafted at the Skyforge after you finish the Companions' main quest. That's already a tall order, but this set also requires the Daedric Smithing perk from the Smithing tree.

What do you get for all of that work? You get an armor set with the same armor rating as Iron Armor and weighs five units less. There's no special perk, enchantment, or any unique aspect to this armor set beside its absurd unlock requirement. It only takes an Iron Ingot to temper, but anyone with Daedric Smithing unlocked is most likely capable of crafting an armor set better than this. It's no contest; this is the worst heavy armor set in Skyrim.

2 Best: Daedric Armor

Daedric Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Heavy
  • Armor Rating: 
  • Weight: 81
  • Value: 6,
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? Yes
  • Obtained: Crafting (90 Smithing required); extremely rare world drop
  • Hidden Perk: Intimidation checks are 10% easier

Does this need an explanation? It's Daedric Armor. This is the most iconic armor set in Skyrim, arguably in the entire Elder Scrolls franchise. The dark black metal and glowing red accents make this one of the most intimidating armor sets in the game. Bethesda must have thought so as well because this armor set also makes your intimidation checks 10% easier.

Aesthetics aside, this is the best heavy armor set in the game in terms of armor values. With some tempering and heavy armor perks, it's quite easy to hit Skyrim's armor cap with a Daedric set. It can also be enchanted, allowing crafty players to create a truly overpowered set of armor. Daedric Armor looks incredible, makes you much more durable, and has a rarity to match its power. It's unlikely you'll find a set of Daedric Armor while playing Skyrim, so the best means of obtaining this armor set is through Smithing. If you can get past that, this iconic armor set is nothing short of incredible.

1 Worst: Worn Shrouded Armor

Worn Shrouded Armor Stats

  • Armor Class: Light
  • Armor Rating: 35
  • Weight: 12
  • Value: 
  • Enchantable? Yes
  • Tempering? No
  • Obtained: Found in the Dawnstar Sanctuary

The Worn Shrouded Armor set is the worst armor you can find in Skyrim. It has an armor rating of 35 that can't be increased through tempering. Thankfully, none of the pieces are enchanted, so you can remedy this somewhat by using defensive enchantments. Still, is it worth investing resources into an armor set that has no unique qualities? For most, that answer is a clear no. Stealthy characters that love the Dark Brotherhood's aesthetic are better off with the Ancient Shrouded Armor set. It might be easy to obtain, but that doesn't redeem this awful armor set in the slightest.

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Skyrim: The 18 Best Heavy Armor Sets, Ranked

For every character, there's a perfect set of armor in The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. If a player chooses to go down the tankier route and make a close-combat, heavy-damage Dragonborn, chances are they'll most likely invest perks in the heavy armor skill tree. Heavy armor is great for two-handed fighters who like to stay close up and personal and dish out a ton of damage while being able to sustain a lot as well.

There are a few great heavy armor sets for such character builds. Wearing a full set is also a great bonus, provided the player has unlocked the perks within the heavy armor skill tree that grants powerful boosts when wearing only heavy armor. Here are the best Heavy Armor sets in Skyrim players can invest in.

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Updated on September 11th, by Anastasia Maillot: The Elder Scrolls franchise seemed to be in limbo until Bethesda announced it would be once again re-releasing Skyrim to celebrate its 10th-year anniversary. Although this news hasn't been received with applause, it's still likely the new update will pull fans back into the game.

Heavy armor remains one of the staple character build choices in Skyrim. However, with so many options to choose from, it can be tough to figure out which sets are the ultimate best heavy armor sets in Skyrim. Much is dependent on the player's level, which will determine which sets are available in loot or for purchase. Note: all armor ratings are marked without a shield.

18 Ancient Nord Armor

  • Armor Rating: 60
  • How To Get: Forelhost, Nordic Ruins, Aela The Huntress after marriage

Despite being the worst heavy armor set in Skyrim, the Ancient Nord Armor set is actually quite rare to find and complete. While most draugr will wear pieces of the set, most of them don't actually drop the armor as loot. Luckily, the armor is there more for its appearances than its utility.

One of the key ways of getting this armor set is to find it at Forelhost or purchase it from Aela The Huntress. Random pieces of it may be found all across Skyrim, typically in Nordic Ruins. It will look nice on an armor stand but provides the worst collective armor rating. Despite being a bad set, it has a high crafting requirement. It can only be made at the Skyforge with the Daedric Smithing perk.

17 Iron Armor (Regular And Banded)

  • Armor Rating: 60 (regular), 63 (banded)
  • How To Get: Commonly found in random loot, merchants, as well as Shroudhearth Barrow, Riverwood, and Helgen

Iron armor is really just a copy of Ancient Nordic armor, but it's much more common and has its own distinct look. The regular type in particular is very easy to find early in the game, with some pieces available in Helgen as soon as the game starts.

There's also a banded version of iron armor, which is a bit better in terms of armor rating but still clearly a beginner's armor set in Skyrim. All in all, it's a set that the Dragonborn will likely wear when the game begins but will soon graduate out of. The bonus is that iron armor can be crafted without any Smithing perks or levels.

16 Imperial Armor (Regular, Officer's Helmet, And Closed Helmet)

  • Armor Rating: 60 (regular), 62 (officer's helmet), 63 (closed helmet)
  • How To Get: Helgen and when joining the Imperial Legion

Imperial armor is another variant of iron armor. It has the same base armor rating of 60 but has a unique appearance to it. It also comes in three different types, depending on the kind of helmet the Dragonborn chooses to go for. The closed helmet type is the best variant, as it provides the most armor.

This is another extremely early game heavy armor set in Skyrim. It won't serve the player well past a few levels, but it can be a nice starting armor for just about any character build that relies heavily on heavy armor. To craft it, the Steel Smithing perk is required, as well as level 20 of Smithing.

15 Wolf Armor

  • Armor Rating Without Shield: 72
  • HowTo Get: Eorlund Gray-Mane's shop (must join Companions first)

The Wolf Armor is a surprisingly cool set that can be seen on many of the members of the Companions upon joining them. Not many players may have noticed, but this armor set can also be bought from Eorlund Gray-Mane after they've completed the Proving Honor quest in the Companions faction.

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Although this heavy armor set looks nice, it's not that strong in the long run and soon becomes obsolete in comparison to Dwarven armor for instance. That being said, it provides a nice base armor of 72 when a full set of it is worn.

14 Steel Armor

Tied with the Wolf Armor, steel armor is a bit easier to find while adventuring in Skyrim. Most random loot and merchants will have steel armor, so players won't be having a hard time at all to find at least a few pieces of it here and there. It's a decent early game choice as well, upgrading from iron armor.

To craft steel armor, level 20 of Smithing is required, as is the Steel Smithing perk.

13 Bonemold Armor

  • Armor Rating: 73
  • How To Get: Requires Dragonborn DLC, can be purchased from Glover Mallory at Raven Rock

The Bonemold Armor is another set introduced first in the Dragonborn DLC. Upon entering Raven Rock in particular, the player will spot it on local Redoran guards. Like the Chitin Heavy Armor, it's sold by Glover Mallory and worn occasionally by Reavers.

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With the right level of Smithing, which in this case is only 15, the player can craft their own set with bone meal, Netch leather, and iron ingots. A full set has a fairly good armor rating of 73 and is still lackluster compared to many of the base game heavy armor sets found later in Skyrim.

12 Dwarven Armor

  • Armor Rating: 78
  • How To Get: Commonly found in random loot, especially in Dwemer ruins like Nchuand-Zel

One of the more common heavy armor sets to find in Dwemer ruins, this one is also fairly easy to craft. The player will need to be level 30 in Smithing, with the Dwarven perk unlocked. The difficulty with crafting this armor set is that it requires Dwarven metal ingots, which need to be smelted from Dwarven metal scraps.

It's a nice mid-game heavy armor set in Skyrim to have but quickly outlives its effectiveness. Nchuand-Zel is one of the best locations to find a full set in if the player urgently requires one

11 Dawnguard Heavy Armor

  • Armor Rating: 78
  • How To Get: Requires the Dawnguard DLC, received when joining the Dawnguard faction

The Dawnguard DLC also introduced a brand new armor set: the Dawnguard Heavy armor. If the player joins the vampire hunter faction, they'll be able to receive this armor upon joining. To get the helmet, however, it needs to be bought from Gunmar.

Much like other faction-related armor sets, this heavy armor can't be crafted from scratch. That being said, it can be upgraded using steel ingots.

10 Falmer Hardened Armor

  • Armor Rating: 78
  • How To Get: Commonly found in Dawnguard DLC, on high-level Falmers

Found in the Dawnguard DLC, this Falmer Hardened Armor is a weaker variant of the Falmer Heavy Armor. It looks entirely the same as its stronger version but has a significantly lower base armor rating. The armor can be often looted off of high-level Falmer enemies like Warmongers and Shadowmasters.

The pieces can't be crafted, but they can be upgraded with Chaurus chitin. The base armor rating for a full set is 78 points, which makes this heavy armor set kind of weak since it ranks so much lower than sets that are much easier to find all around Skyrim and earlier on in the game.

9 Chitin Heavy Armor

  • Armor Rating: 87
  • How To Get: Requires Dragonborn DLC, reliably acquired after killing Vendil Severin during the quest Served Cold

Players who have the Dragonborn DLC will have access to this very unique and cool Chitin Heavy Armor set, which is inspired by the Morag Tong light armor variant. It's a surprisingly lightweight set as well, making it a good heavy armor set in Skyrim.

The Chitin Heavy Armor set provides an armor rating of 87 when a full set is worn. It can be found all around Solstheim as loot, but Glover Mallory will also sell it over at Raven Rock. Reavers are the best target to loot a full set. With high enough Smithing, the player can also craft their own set with Netch leather, chitin plate, and corundum ingots.

8 Blades Armor

  • Armor Rating: 88
  • How To Get: Sky Haven Temple, inside the armory

Related of course to the Blades faction, which is joined during the main questline, the armor of the faction can't be crafted. That being said, finding it isn't very difficult, and there's one set location the player can expect to discover it. It can also be upgraded, eventually.

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When entering Sky Haven temple, the Blades heavy armor set is inside the armory room and can be looted from the chest. Steel ingots can be used to upgrade it, and with a shield, the armor rating is bumped significantly to

7 Orcish Armor

  • Armor Rating: 90
  • How To Get: Commonly found in loot, can be bought from merchants, found at Largashbur

Another great base game heavy armor set in Skyrim, Orcish armor will begin to appear randomly in chests after the player has reached roughly 26 levels. Fairly common at shops and orc camps as well, it's easy to find but also it's possible to craft a set.

To actually craft it, the player's Smithing needs to be at least level 50 and they'll need the Orcish Smithing perk. With a shield, the armor rating is bumped up to

6 Nordic Carved Armor

  • Armor Rating: 93
  • How To Get: Requires the Dragonborn DLC, found as random loot in dungeons and worn by reavers and bandit leaders

Another armor set introduced in the Dragonborn DLC is the Nordic Carved armor set, which finally gave players a decent Nordic heavy armor set in Skyrim. It's pretty easy to find pieces of it in a variety of dungeons as loot.

Or, if the player wants to, they can also craft one at level 50 of Smithing if they have the Advanced Armors perk unlocked. With a shield included, the armor rating of the set is

5 Ebony Armor

  • Armor Rating: 96
  • How To Get: Random loot and merchants past a certain level, as well as the Ebony Warrior

One of the coolest-looking sets in the game, ebony armor is something that will begin to spawn naturally in loot around level It can also be, though one needs to have a Smithing of 80 and the ebony Smithing perk unlocked.

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The full set with a shield will give the player an incredible armor rating of , making this great heavy armor in Skyrim worth the grind. If players can afford to wait, they can collect a full set from the Ebony Warrior after defeating him.

4 Falmer Heavy

  • Armor Rating: 96
  • How To Get: Requires the Dawnguard DLC, looted from high-level Falmer enemies

The better Falmer heavy armor, this set only appears on the most vicious of Falmer enemies. Warmongers and Shadowmasters have the highest chance of dropping pieces of this armor once the Dawnguard DLC is installed.

This armor can't be crafted, just like its weaker version, but it's possible to upgrade with chaurus chitin. Overall, it's a great heavy armor set in Skyrim, making it worth the grind.

3 Dragonplate Armor

  • Armor Rating:
  • How To Get: Rarely in random loot, best to craft self

After killing all those dragons and getting their bones, it's only natural they're good for something, right? Well, the Dragonplate armor is actually among the top best heavy armor sets in Skyrim and is usually easier to craft at Smithing with the Dragon Armor perk, as finding it is extremely unlikely — though possible after level

For the full set, the player will need both Dragon Bones and Dragon Scales. With a shield, the set's rating comes to about It's the first set that bumps the full set rating above points and is the third-best heavy armor set in Skyrim.

2 Stalhrim Armor

  • Armor Rating:
  • How To Get: Requires the Dragonborn DLC, can be bought from Glover Mallory or Halbarn Iron-Fur

Players who have the Dragonborn DLC installed can get their hands on the Stalhrim heavy armor set, which can be crafted using the new Stalhrim material introduced within the DLC. The recipe calls for Stalhrim, leather strips, steel ingots, and quicksilver ingots. However, it does require level 80 Smithing and the Ebony Smithing perk.

RELATED: Skyrim: The Most Intelligent Characters, Ranked

The DLC will also have players complete a quest related to Stalhrim before crafting any Stalhrim pieces even becomes an option. Alternatively, it can also be bought by Baldor Iron-Shaper, Glover Mallory, and sometimes Halbarn Iron-Fur. Not only does it look great, but it's also the second-best heavy armor set in Skyrim.

1 Daedric Armor

  • Armor Rating:
  • How To Get: Rare loot in boss chests, looted from Legendary and Revered Dragons and sold by Dremora Merchant

No doubt the coolest and best heavy armor set in Skyrim, the Daedric armor set is both a statement and a great choice. Even better, it requires a lower level of Smithing than Dragonplate armor, only 90, as well as the Daedric Smithing perk. While it can rarely be found in loot, it's possible to find it after level

The main challenge with crafting a full set comes with getting one of its key ingredients: Daedra Hearts. The full set with shield rates at a whopping , making it the sturdiest set in the game.

The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim was released on November 11, , and is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. As of November 11, , also available on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

MORE: Skyrim: Every Faction Ranked According To Strength


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In the world of Skyrim, there are many factions the player can join. Some have no power or influence, but others, like the Stormcloaks, are strong.

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Skyrim's best armour: light and heavy sets, plus low or no armour options

Skyrim returns on Switch and VR, so let's talk armour.

Armour is important in Skyrim, but so is looking good. How can you balance aesthetic and function? Does it matter? What does armour even do?

On this page, part of the our Skyrim guide, we go over everything you need to know to get the ideal armour set up, regardless of your preferences.

We're republishing these tips to celebrate Skyrim releasing on Switch and VR, but even returning veterans may learn something. Let's dig into armour, shall we?

skyrim armour

Skyrim's armour cap can be a bit confusing. It's displayed as with a full armour set that includes head, torso, hands, and feet, but each piece has an additional hidden bonus of +

The damage mitigation cap is 80%. You'll never top this so as long as you're at the armour cap, 80% of damage inflicted on you will be blocked.

Hitting the armour cap with magic

It's entirely possible to reach the armour cap if you don't want to wear four armour pieces - if you're a mage for example, or if you just prefer the gentle caressing breeze afforded by a skirt.

One option is to use the Dragonhide spell that offers 80% damage reduction for 30 seconds, essentially simulting the effects of reaching the armour cap. Combining this with a necromage vampire build will increase the duration so if you're contemplating being a mage and don't want to be weighed down with armour, consider switching over to the dark side.

There are a number of mage armour perks as well but it's worth wearing light armour and then casting them, as the perks alone will only get you up to around which is the equivalent of around 55% damage reduction. Stock up on Fortify Alteration potions and if you don't mind the long casting times, the Alteration spell will also come in handy.

Hitting the armour cap with crafting

Otherwise, to hit the armour cap you should focus on Smithing and Enchanting.

For Smithing, you'll want to get Smithing, Armour skill, the Ancient Knowledge ability (obtained by completing the quest Unfathomable Depths) that makes Smithing increase 15% faster, and Blacksmith's Elixir which increases weapon and armour improving by 50% for 30 seconds.

When it comes to Enchanting, Fortify Smithing can be added to clothes, rings, necklaces, and torso armour. The effects stack so it's possible to get four boosts to Smithing when a full set is worn.

This is plenty to enable you to craft armour that reaches the cap, and there's no point going trying for higher values - you won't see any further damage reduction as a result, unfortunately.

skyrim light armour

The best light armour

Light armour is right up our alley. It doesn't weigh much, doesn't slow you down, and sneaking is much more effective than in heavy armour.

True, it provides less protection than heavy armour at the outset, but thanks to the armour level cap, it'll eventually provide just as much protection as heavy armour.

Taking hits, reading skill books, and paying a trainer will all increase your light armour skill and increase the effectiveness of your light armour.

Because the armour cap essentially means all sets end up at the same level, you should choose a set or piece that you like the look of or has a particular bonus that will enhance your play-style. Here are a couple of our favourites.

skyrim nightingale armour

Nightingale Armour

This is a favourite and thanks to the one-handed and stamina buffs it's great for dual-welding assassins. You can get the armour by doing the Thieves Guild quest Trinity Restored.

At its highest level, it increases stamina by 40 points, increases frost resistance by 50%, and adds 25% damage to one-handed attacks.

It also makes you harder to detect when sneaking, makes lockpicking 25% easier, and reduces the cost of illusion spells by 17%

skyrim dragonscale armour

Dragonscale Armour

This armour set is technically the best set if you're going down the light armour route, and will get you to the cap faster than other sets. Plus it looks super fancy.

You can forge it using dragon scales, iron ingots, and leather strips, but you'll need to have unlocked the Dragon Armour perk and have a Smithing level of

heavy armour

The best heavy armour

Once again, the armour cap ensures that whether you choose light armour or heavy armour, it'll all be the same in the end. But for those who want serious protection from the outset, heavy armour is for you.

Here are a couple of suggestions.

Skyrim daedric armour

Daedric Armour

This set has the highest armour rating in the base game, making it the best in the category. Looking all kinds of epic doesn't hurt either.

You can craft it with ebony ingots, Daedra hearts, and leather strips, and you'll need a Smithing level of 90 and the Deadric Smithing perk.

skyrim Ahzidal's Armor

Ahzidal's Armor

You can get this armour set by completing the Unearthed quest and it has some pretty good enchantments.

There's a small chance that enemies who melee attack you will be paralyzed while wearing the torso piece but it's so tiny as to be inconsequential.

Conjuration and rune spells cost 25% more, but the range is increased. If you wear any four Relics of Ahzidal you'll get 10 points added to Enchanting, but if you wear any other bits of apparel, you won't get the buff.

skyrim forge

How To forge the best armour

We've briefly covered a couple of the light and heavy armour sets you can come across in the game, but if you're determined to forge your own, here are our picks along with what you'll need to craft them.

    Daedric Armour set (Heavy)
  • Daedric Smithing Perk
  • 90 Smithing level
  • 10 Leather strips
  • 17 Ebony ingots
  • 5 Daedra hearts
  • Leather strips can crafted from leather or bought from merchants for 3 gold, while you can buy ebony ingots for gold once you reach level Kill Dremora inside the Shrine of Mehrunes Dagon located at The Pale for an easy source of Daedra hearts.

    Dragonplate Armour set (Heavy)
  • Dragon Smithing Perk
  • Smithing level
  • 13 Dragon scales
  • 6 Dragon bones
  • 10 Leather strips

Leather strips can be crafted from leather, or will cost you 3 gold a piece from merchants. Dragon scales and bones are drops from killing dragons.

    Dragonscale Armour set (Light)
  • Dragon Smithing Perk
  • Smithing level
  • 14 Dragon scales
  • 4 Leather
  • 2 Iron ingot

Leather can be crafted from hides or purchased from merchants for 10 gold. Iron ingots will set you back 7 gold each. Dragon scales are dropped by dragons.

Sours: https://www.vgcom/skyrim-best-armour-light-heavy


Armor is a type of apparel that is worn on the body to reduce damage from attacks. Armor comes in two varieties, corresponding to the two different skills governing armor usage: Heavy Armor and Light Armor. In addition, there are shields which provide an additional passive increase to armor rating (active blocking is governed by the Block skill).

Armor comes in several pieces which can be equipped independently of each other. These pieces are:

  • Armor: covers your legs, chest and shoulders
  • Boots: covers your feet and ankles
  • Gauntlets: covers your hands up to your elbow
  • Helmet: covers your head
  • Shield: protect and block attacks

The Divine CrusaderCreation adds an additional type of armor: the Fastened Shield of the Crusader, which is a Shoulder piece.

In addition to standard pieces of armor, two necklaces in the game provide an armor bonus: the Locket of Saint JiubDG, and the Amulet of Articulation.

Armor Materials[edit]

Armor appears in several different materials and styles, which determine the quality of the armor. Higher quality armor provides better protection (but is generally heavier). Which quality armor you will find is generally determined based on your character's level.

The following tables describe the base level at which an armor type begins to show up randomly for the player. Lower level armor will also randomly appear, but so will higher level armors in certain situations: potentially up to at least 12 levels "early". Enchanted versions of each armor type will begin to appear one level later; see Generic Magic Apparel for more information. See Leveled Lists for details on how these lists are used to determine the probabilities of individual items appearing. Although Dragonscale, Dragonplate, and Daedric armors can all be found in random loot, once your level is high enough, the chances of finding any of these armor types is 20 times less than finding other armor types.

Most armor from the list below can be created at Forges, by using the Smithing skill. The ability to make armor is not dependent upon your character's level, but is instead dependent upon which Smithing perks you have unlocked. All standard armor can also be tempered at Workbenches, if you have the necessary auxiliary item. Tempering is twice as effective if you have unlocked the perk necessary to forge that armor. Tempering an enchanted version of the armor (whether custom-enchanted, or generic) is similar to tempering the base version - it requires the same auxiliary item, and is twice as effective if you have unlocked the forging perk - but also requires the Arcane Blacksmith perk to be unlocked.

Jewelry (specifically, amulets/necklaces and rings), can be created at any blacksmith's forge from ingots and jewels, but these are not counted as protective armor (the two exceptions to this are noted in the section above); similarly, circlets/crowns - like common clothing - have no armor/protection value and cannot be crafted. The Aetherial Crown, which is a unique, quest-related, crafted item (added by the Dawnguard add-on), unlike other jewelry items, is eligible for improvement by ordinary smithing, but still only ever bears an armor rating of 0.

The Skyforge allows you to create Ancient Nord armor, a type of heavy armor, if you finish the Companions questline. Also, it may be found from level 1 onward in a few locations. Additionally, there are several other wearable armor sets/pieces that are made available as loot/specialty gear or as unique/quest items; generally, these can all be improved by smithing and possibly fortified with enchantments (if not enchanted already), though they cannot be forged as player-created items. (See also:Magic Items and Artifacts)

The Dragonborn add-on adds craftable Bonemold (heavy), Chitin (light/heavy), Nordic Carved (heavy), and Stalhrim (light/heavy) armors.

The Dawnguard add-on adds Dawnguard armors (light/heavy) and Vampire armors (light), which may be worn/improved but cannot be forged by the player.

^Those armors sets have no matching shield so they are given one of the same material, if any available

^^Studded armor only comes in a cuirass, so there is no studded suit - the values listed here pair it with a hide suit.

^^^Vampire armor has no helmet.

^^^^Improved Bonemold equipment must be made - it will not be randomly found.

†Dragonplate Cuirasses and Shields are tempered using Dragon Bone; all other Dragonplate armor is improved using Dragon Scales.

††Forging Stalhrim armor also requires completion of the quest A New Source of Stalhrim.

†††Those sets will be found during their respective quests and then can be forged by the player but will not appear at random in chests or NPCs.

‡All Daedric armor can also be made at the Atronach Forge (except the boots, see Atronach Forge bugs), in which case the Daedric Smithing perk is not needed, but instead the Sigil Stone must be obtained. Tempering armor created at the Atronach Forge is still augmented by the Daedric Smithing perk.

‡‡‡Daedric Mail set has no helmet.

Armor Rating[edit]

For all of the armor listed on this site, the provided armor ratings are the base armor ratings. The actual protection your character will receive from the armor is dependent upon your skill in that armor type and any relevant perks that you have unlocked. The rating can also be improved by using smithing to change the armor's quality to "Fine", "Superior", "Exquisite", "Flawless", "Epic", or "Legendary".

The armor rating only reduces physical damage, not magical damage. Each point of armor rating reduces damage by %.

Approximate formulas:

  • Item Armor rating&#;= CEILING[ (base armor rating&#;+ item quality)&#;× (1&#;+ &#;× (skill&#;+ skill effect)/) ]&#;× (1&#;+ unison perk&#;) × (1 + Matching Set)&#;× (1&#;+ armor perk)
  • Shield rating&#;= CEILING[ (base shield rating&#;+ item quality)&#;× (1&#;+ &#;× (skill&#;+ skill effect)/) ]&#;× (1&#;+ unison perk&#;) × (1 + Matching Set)
  • Displayed armor rating&#;= SUM(item armor rating)&#;+ shield rating&#;+ armor effects
  • Base damage reduction of 3% per piece worn = Hidden armor rating of 25 per piece worn, including shields
  • Damage reduction percentage&#;= displayed armor rating&#;× + × amount of pieces worn

† Custom Fit for light armor or Well Fitted for heavy armor
‡ Agile Defender for light armor or Juggernaut for heavy armor

Clothing and robes do not benefit from the hidden armor rating bonus.

For NPCs the skill coefficient is instead of , and ^ 2 () instead of for Custom Fit.

Note the difference between skill effects (e.g. Fortify Light/Heavy Armor equipment, Ancient Knowledge) and armor effects (e.g. Oakflesh, The Lord Stone).

Your durability against physical attacks (i.e. the amount of raw damage you can sustain) is proportional to /(&#;− damage reduction percentage). This results in hyperbolic growth in your physical durability, up to the cap of 80% damage reduction giving a ×5 multiplier to your physical durability. Thus, the more armor rating you have, the more each additional point of armor rating is worth. The graph displayed shows the multiplier to your physical durability relative to no armor based on the displayed armor rating, assuming you are wearing all four pieces of armor (+12% hidden damage reduction) and have no other effects.

Armor Rating Example[edit]

Dragonscale Armor rating

  • CEILING [(41 + 20) * (1 + * (/))] * * * 2
  • = * * * 2
  • =

Dragonscale Helmet rating

  • CEILING [ (17 + 10) * (1 + * (/)) ] * * * 2
  • =

Dragonscale Boots rating & Dragonscale Gauntlets rating

  • CEILING [ (12 + 10) * (1 + * (/)) ] * * * 2
  • =

Dragonscale Shield rating

  • CEILING [ (29 + 10) * (1 + * (/)) ] * *
  • =

Displayed armor rating

  • + + + +
  • =

Armor Cap[edit]

Regardless of your displayed armor rating you can never exceed an 80% physical damage reduction, the armor cap. You'll reach the armor cap at displayed armor rating when wearing all four pieces of armor and a shield, without a shield, or when not wearing any armor or shield at all. There are a few different ways you can reach this cap:

Light / Heavy armor skills only

Let's say you have armor skill and all relevant armor perks acquired and active (i.e. you're wearing a matched set of all light or all heavy armor):

  • Without a shield your armor must provide a base armor rating of about ( / ( * * * 2)) to reach the armor cap.
    • Heavy Armor: The best heavy armor, Daedric armor has base armor rating → displayed armor rating → % damage reduction.
    • Light Armor: The best light armor, Dragonscale armor has 82 base armor rating → displayed armor rating → % damage reduction
  • With a shield, you must reach a displayed armor rating of to reach the armor cap.
    • Heavy Armor: Daedric armor with a matching shield yields displayed armor rating, enough to reach the armor cap. The next best Heavy Armor, Dragonplate with a matching shield provides displayed armor rating → % damage reduction
    • Light Armor: Dragonscale armor with a matching shield yields displayed armor rating → % damage reduction

Light / Heavy armor skills + magic effects

While it's impossible for a light armor user to reach the cap relying only on Light Armor skill and perks, you can still reach the cap without using Smithing, Enchanting, or Alchemy effects. A player with maxed out Light Armor skills, a full set of Dragonscale armor, and a Dragonscale shield will have a displayed armor rating of and a % damage reduction, less than the displayed armor rating needed to reach the armor cap. Activating the Lord Stone will boost displayed armor rating to and a % damage reduction. Casting the armor spells Ironflesh or Ebonyflesh will boost displayed armor rating over , reaching the 80% armor cap.

Light / Heavy armor skills + smithing

Reaching the armor cap becomes significantly easier with smithing. Let's say you have smithing and all relevant smithing perks in addition to armor skill and all relevant armor perks.

  • Improving a piece of armor to Legendary quality adds +10 to the armor rating, or +20 if the piece is chest armor. This means that improving a fully matched armor set to legendary boosts the total base armor rating by 20 + 10 + 10 + 10 =
  • Without a shield your armor must provide a base armor rating of about 80 to reach the armor cap, since 80 + 50 = ( / ( * * * 2)).
    • Heavy armor: A full set of Chitin or Steel Plate armor provides 87 base armor rating, so any tempered set of heavy armor with equal or greater base armor rating will allow you to reach the armor cap
    • Light armor: Only Dragonscale armor provides a high enough armor rating (82) to reach the armor cap with tempering
  • With a shield, you must reach a displayed armor rating of to reach the armor cap.
    • Heavy Armor: A full set of tempered Iron Armor with a matching shield yields a displayed armor rating of , enough to reach the armor cap. This means that any matching set of heavy armor equal or higher in quality to iron armor can be used to reach the armor cap. Since iron armor is the lowest quality heavy armor, this means that any tempered heavy armor set will reach the armor cap
    • Light armor: A full set of tempered Elven Armor with a matching shield yields a displayed armor rating of , enough to reach the armor cap. This means that any matching set of light armor equal or higher in quality to elven armor can be used to reach the armor cap.

Light / Heavy armor skills + smithing + alchemy + enchanting

With Fortify Smithing enchanted apparel and Fortify Smithing potions you can boost Smithing even further, which can potentially allow any material to reach the cap, without needing any further benefits (such as the Notched Pickaxe); with maxed out enchanting and alchemy and the appropriate perks, using fortify enchanting potions to make better fortify alchemy apparel to make better fortify enchanting potions, to provide the best available Smithing bonuses, you will add total tempering to any suit even without a perk, which is above the rating mentioned above. This means you could temper a theoretical 0-rating suit (which doesn't exist) high enough to hit the cap, and you don't need a shield to get there. With a tempering perk, you will nearly double this, adding to any suit you make; this is practically sufficient to drop any non-chest piece from any suit, and even with the loss of two armor perks (for wearing a full suit and wearing a matched set), you will still hit the cap, allowing you to walk around without a helmet, if you like - just remember, you will also lose any other armor perks you have that trigger off of having a piece in all 4 wearable slots.


  • Clothes such as robes and other apparel do not count as armor, and as such do not benefit from the hidden armor rating bonus.
  • Custom Fit, Well Fitted, and Matching Set perks are applied to shields if the four pieces of worn armor (armor, helmet, gloves, boots) match appropriately. The shield does not have to be of the same set, or even the same type (light or heavy).
  • Shields do not benefit from either Agile Defender or Juggernaut, and do not advance the light or heavy armor skills when struck.
  • Armor rating/damage reduction does not affect the speed at which the skill is trained.
  • If you drop a piece of armor or clothing in front of an NPC, generally in a city or town, they may run up to you and ask you if you are throwing it away.
  • Guards may comment on what kind of armor you're wearing, depending on what faction they belong to and what you're wearing at the time.

Light Armor[edit]

Heavy Armor[edit]

Light Armor Images[edit]

  • These images show a male Nord in different types of light armor.
  • Studded Armor (with hide shield)

  • Leather Armor (with hide shield)

  • Studded Dragonscale armor

  • These images show a female Imperial in different types of light armor.

Armor rating skyrim

Skyrim best armor ranked - highest defense Heavy Armor, Light Armor, Shields and their locations

Essential for just about any playthrough, it's well worth keeping track of the best Light Armor, Heavy Armor, and Shields in Skyrim.

Generally, your armor of choice will be dependent on your playstyle. Classes which require a decent ability to sneak past enemies, and swiftly escape oncoming attackers will benefit from Light Armor. Those who expect to be getting up close and personal, taking plenty of hits but caring less for the stealthy approach will prefer Heavy Armor.

Shields, meanwhile, work as an option for those who prefer Light Armor's benefits, but still want to fight in open melee combat, and thus help to boost the defensive stats of Light Armor wearers, whilst being a tad superfluous for those already wearing a Heavy set.

Before we dive into the specifics of the best sets and individual pieces of kit, there are a couple points to bear in mind:

  • If you're looking to craft or enchant your armor, be sure to check out our detailed guide to power-levelling Smithing and Enchanting skills to hit that level cap and craft the best gear in the game as quickly as possible.
  • Whilst still an important factor for affecting movement speed, weight is generally less crucial for armor as it is for weaponry, particularly with the weight-removing Perks for the Light and Heavy armor skill trees unlocked. Generally, our rankings are based on the defenses provided, with weight a secondary factor.
  • We've ordered the below by full set stats, rather than individual stats, with items that don't belong to a specific set being included in a separate list. Occasionally one item of a set might rank higher than another for defense, but we're only considering items from a set as part of that overall group.
  • Unique sets are marked with an asterisk *, whereby we'll note where to find them. All other sets can be acquired through the standard measures of crafting or random loot in the wild.
  • When the "Upgraded With" colum contains "N/A" for the required perk, this means that you must boost your Smithing Skill over with potions of Fortify Smithing in order to improve the item beyond Flawless quality. If no upgrade material is noted however, (e.g. for the Masque of Clavicus Vile) then the item cannot be improved at all, regardless of Smithing skill boosts and Perks.

The best Heavy Armor sets in Skyrim ranked

Heavy Armor is your go-to for duel-wielding berserkers, two-handed tanks, and even battlemages who prefer to avoid the Alteration school's Stoneflesh and Ironflesh spells.

Below, we've ranked the best Heavy Armor sets in Skyrim, taking into account not only total defenses but also the sets' weight and their various enchantments and effects.

  • Defense and weight values given below are without the shield, as with Heavy Armor you'll rarely be using a shield too.
  • Ebony Armor below is listed with the alternative unique Cuirass, Ebony Mail. The Ebony Mail is acquired from the Daedric quest Boethiah's Calling, by looting the body of the Champion of Boethiah. Note that only this part of the standard Ebony Armor set carries the enchantments noted below.
Armor SetTotal DefenseWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Daedric Armor96Ebony Ingot, Daedric SmithingNoneYes
Stalhrim Armor59Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing25% stronger Resist Frost enchantmentsYes
Dragonplate Armor64Dragon Bone, Dragon ArmorNoneYes
Ebony Armor*9662Ebony Ingot, Ebony Smithing5 Poison damage per second to nearby enemies, Muffle - Ebony Mail part onlyYes, excluding Ebony Mail
Falmer Heavy Armor9655Chaurus Chitin, Advanced ArmorsNoneYes

The best Light Armor sets in Skyrim ranked

As we've mentioned, Light Armor functions best for sword 'n' shield players, archers, and stealthy players. That being said, the addition of Deathbrand Armor in the Dragonborn DLC has introduced the 'Deathbrand' playstyle for Light Armor wearers, meaning duel-wielding is finally a very valid option without requiring Heavy Armor for protection.

  • Deathbrand Armor is arguably the best armor in the game - certainly if you don't have max-level Smithing and Enchanting skills. It can be found one piece at a time as part of the "Deathbrand" Dragonborn quest.
  • Guild Masters Armor is granted when you become the head of the Thieves Guild, during the quest "Under New Management".
  • Nightingale Armor is acquired during the Thieves Guild quest "Trinity Restored".
Armor SetTotal DefenseWeightUpgrade withEffectEnchantable
Deathbrand Armor*13Stalhrim, Ebony Smithing+ Armor when full set worn; +15 Stamina (cuirass) and +10 Carrying Capacity (boots) for each Deathbrand item worn; Waterbreathing (Helmet); +10% damage from one-handed attacks for each Deathbrand item worn when dueal-wielding (gauntlets)No
Ancient Shrouded Armor72Leather, N/A+25 Armor when full set worn; Immune to Poison (cuirass); Muffle (boots); +35% Bow damage (cowl); 2x Sneak attack damage from one-handed weapons (gloves)No
Dragonscale Armor82 ( with shield)20 (26 with shield)Dragon Sclaes, Dragon ArmorNoneYes
Guild Master's Armor*7617Leather, N/A+50 Carrying capacity (cuirass); +35% Pickpocket success (boots); +35% Lockpicking (gloves); 20% better prices (hood)No
Nightingale Armor*6918Void Salts, N/A+25 Armor when full set worn; +20 Stamina, +15% Resist Frost (cuirass); Muffle (boots); 15% Lockpicking, +15% One-handed damage (gloves); % Illusion spell cost (hood)No

The best Shields in Skyrim

Shields are an entirely optional choice, and only suited to one-handed combatants, particularly those with Light Armor sets, or high-difficulty playthroughs. A couple points to note:

  • Spellbreaker is acquired by completing the Daedric quest "The Only Cure".
  • Auriel's Shield is acquired by killing the Falmer Warmonger inside the Forgotten Vale Forest location within the Forgotten Vale, in the Dawnguard questline.
  • The Shield of Solitude is acquired by completing the quest "The Wolf Queen Awakened"
  • The Shield of Ysgramor is acquired from the final chest in Ysgramor's Tomb, as part of the Companions quest "Glory of the Dead".
  • The Dawnguard Rune Shield is acquired from the radient Dawnguard quest "Lost Relic".
  • The Aetherial Shield is acquired from crafting it at the Aetherium Forge as part of the quest "Lost to the Ages"
ShieldArmor TypeDefenseWeightEffect
Spellbreaker*3812Dwarven Metal Ingot, N/AWards, protecting you from 50 Magic damage whilst blocking
Auriel's Shield*3214Refined Moonstone, Elven SmithingStores the energy of blocked attacks, releases the energy when power bashing
Shield of Solitude*3212N/A+30% Magic resist, +35% damage blocked
Shield of Ysgramor*3012N/A+20% Magic resist, +20 Health
Dawnguard Rune Shield*276Steel Ingot, Advanced Armors+10 Bash damage vs Vampires, blocking for a period of time creates a sun shield, causing 10 damage to nearby enemies
Aetherial Shield*2612Dwarven Metal Ingot, N/ABashing enemies causes thm to become ethereal for 15 seconds, and thus unable to attack or be attacked
Skyrim: What's new in the Special Edition and gameplay guides

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The best individual armor pieces in Skyrim

Funnily enough, because we've included the Ebony Mail in our Ebony Armor Set, all of the best unique, individual armor pieces are headwear of one kind or another, functioning in the same way as helmets. A couple points to bear in mind:

  • All of the Dragon Piest Masks below (everything except the Masque of Clavicus Vile and the Helm of Yngol) are available from looting the Dragon Priests of the same name as the mask in question.
  • The Masque of Clavicus Vile is acquired through the Daedric Quest "A Daedra's Best Friend", but only if you refrain from killing Barbas.
  • The Helm of Yngol is acquired from Yngol's skeleton in Yngol Barrow after defeating Yngol's Shade. It's significant due to the Frost Resistance spell, which is one of the only ones available on headgear in the game.
NamePieceArmor TypeDefenseWeightUpgrade withEffect
Konahrik*MaskHeavy247Gold Ingot, Daedric SmithingRandomly summons a Dragon Priest; chance to knock back enemies, heal you and nearby allies, and grant a fire cloak when on low health
Hevnoraak*MaskHeavy239Iron Ingot, Daedric SmithingImmune to disease and poison
Otar*MaskHeavy239Refined Malachite, Daedric Smithing30% Resist Fire, Frost, and Shock
Masque of Clavicus Vile*MaskHeavy237N/A20% better prices, +10 Speech, +5% Magicka regen
Nakriin*MaskHeavy239Ebony Ingont, Daedric Smithing+50 Magicka, Destruction and Restoration spells cost 20% less
Rahgot*MaskHeavy239Orichalcum Ingont, Daedric SmithingFortify Stamina 70 points
Vokun*MaskHeavy239Steel Ingot, Daedric SmithingConjuration, Illusion and Alteration spells cost 20% less
Helm of Yngol*HelmetHeavy218Steel Ingot, Advanced Smithing30% Frost Resistance
Krosis*MaskLight215Iron Ingot, Daedric SmithingLockpicking, Alchemy and Archery 20% better
Volsung*MaskLight215Corundum Ingot, Daedric SmithingPrices 20% better +20 Carry Capacity, Waterbreathing
Skyrim: Reach The Armor Cap With Any Gear

What affects the shield armor rating?

  1. Okay, so I have a stormcloak character I’m calling the Stormcloak Elite Marauder, and he uses light armor, and shield plus one handed axe, and archery as a secondary skill. I’m wondering about how armor rating is calculated with shields. What gives them a better amor rating bonus, the block tree or the corresponding armor type skill tree? I initially wanted him to use light armor shields, but they aren’t very prevalent, with two of the good ones being eleven and glass, which doesn’t fit into the character as he is a Stormcloak and proud Nord, or the Hide, Chitin, and light Stalhrim Shields. The Stahlrim fits in but is accessed much later in the game, and the chitin is.. so so. It’s not that it’s like the eleven designs, and just goes against his character, but I wanted to go for a more Nordic vibe, and the chitin doesn’t really fit that. So I wanna know, how is the shield armor rating calculated? Is it more affected by the armor skill or by the block skill? Could I use, say, Targe the Bloodless with a light armor set and it still be effective(or at least as effective as an iron shield can be)? Or would it be unscaled? I want to know as he isn’t a stealth character, but a light armor warrior, and thus I figured the shield would help balance things out, not as effective as full heavy armor, but not as squishy as a light armor character. Also, I figured he would use the shield as a weapon as much as a shield, as those warriors in our world that used hand held, not strapped on shields, would use them as a blunt attack in terms of jabbing with it or smashing with it, and it was more effective than the ones strapped to the arm.CDWolfdrake - 1 year ago

Top Voted Answer

  1. Armor rating is a function of the related Armor skills, Light Armor or Heavy Armor. Like all pieces of armor, shields start with a hidden 25 point rating separate from what is displayed. The armor cap is reached at armor rating. If you're wearing 4 pieces of armor though the displayed armor rating only needs to be , since you have rating from the hidden amount on the 4 pieces. If you hold a shield while wearing 4 pieces of armor the displayed armor rating only needs to be to reach the cap, since shields count as a 5th piece. Shields are independent from and do not effect perks like Matched Set or Fitted.

    When it comes to blocking damage by raising the shield, that's when the Block skill comes into play. Block will stack with Armor to nullify about 96% of incoming damage when both are capped. A shield's base block effectiveness is influenced by its BASE armor rating. For standard attacks this means Steel or better will reach the cap for Heavy while Chitin or better reaches the cap for Light(and to be honest that means Glass in the vanilla sections of Skyrim). Against power attacks you need additional reinforcement.

    All in all the best shield in the game by those metrics is the level 40+ version of the Shield of Solitude. It has the base armor rating of an Ebony Shield, a custom magnitude Resist Magic 30%, and Fortify Block 35%.DuneMan - 1 year ago2   0


  1. There are three skills involved here: light armor, heavy armor, block. Light and heavy armor skills increase when taking damage wearing each of them. The block skill increase when blocking regardless of the type of shield, light or heavy. If you want to focus on light armor, you should get a light armor shield.

    Usually, characters with light armor are sneak type so they rarely use a shield. If you don't use elven or glass, that limits you to dragonscale shield. You'd probably be better off using two weapons or switch to a two handed weapon.

    In the end, light armor is better since it offer more protection at high level and more mobility and versatility since you can carry several sets with you and change them depending on the situation.

    You could also just stick to your original character build and use heavy armor shields.FactoidHunter - 1 year ago1   1
  2. I wish that shields were affected by armor skills through, but perhaps an independent shield tree? Though the reason it's block not shield is because you can block with weapons too but stillCDWolfdrake - 1 year ago

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Armor is used to increase the players Armor Rating which reduces damage from attacks. Armor can also have beneficial enchanted effects that improve character attributes. There are nine levels of armor in three subcategories Light Armor, Heavy Armor and Mage Armor.

Armor is available in five categories which identify where the Armor Item is worn on the player:

Armor can be gained through various means: bought from Armor Vendors, gained through quest rewards by completing quests, crafted which requires various levels of the Smithing skill depending on the item being crafted, looted from corpses or containers, temporarily made by Conjuration skills, or picked up directly from the world surroundings.

Armor Rating[]

The actual armor rating for any given player is calculated based on the base armor rating for each piece of armor worn (these are the numbers provided in this wiki) in combination with the quality of the armor (base value, Fine, Superior, Exquisite, Flawless, Epic or Legendary) and any associated perks and skills.

The play testers on the UESP wiki have estimated the calculated armor rating as follows:

Armor Cap[]

In skyrim there is a maximum armor cap of when wearing 4 pieces of armor with each piece of armor adding a hidden 25 armor points which would make the actual armor cap without wearing any armor is equals 80% damage reduction and with enough perks in Smithing/Alchemy/enchanting and the corresponding armor perk can make even Hide Armour hit the armor cap.

Matching sets[]

A complete set of matching armor confers extra armor bonuses on the Dragonborn with the Matching Set perks.

See also[]


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