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, 2021 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).
- 1 How We”re Ranking This List
- 2 Dragonscale Armor Stats
- 3 Imperial Armor Stats
- 4 Miraak”s Armor Set Stats
- 5 Enchantments
- 6 Iron Armor Stats
- 7 Deathbrand Armor Stats
- 8 Enchantments
- 9 Stormcloak Armor Stats
- 10 Ancient Shrouded Armor Stats
- 11 Enchantments
- 12 Fur Armor Stats
- 13 Skaal Armor Stats
- 14 Nightingale Armor Stats
- 15 Enchantments
- 16 Hide Armor Stats
- 17 Ahzidal”s Armor Stats
- 18 Enchantments
- 19 Ancient Nord Armor Stats
- 20 Daedric Armor Stats
- 21 Worn Shrouded Armor Stats
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 567, 542 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.
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Dragonscale Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 82 Weight: 20 Value: 2,850 Enchantable? Yes Tempering? Yes Obtained: Crafting (100 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 100 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 111 with the inclusion of a shield. Dragonscale Armor provides a lot of protection and intimidation, but its low drop chance and 100 Smithing requirement make it tough to obtain in the early to mid-game.
Imperial Armor Stats
Armor Class: Heavy Armor Rating: 60 Weight: 52 Value: 185 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.
Miraak”s Armor Set Stats
Armor Class: Light (Robes are considered Clothing; mask can drop as Heavy) Armor Rating: 45 Weight: 13.5 Value: 1,004 Enchantable? No Tempering? No Obtained: Complete Solstheim”s main quest
Miraak (Mask): Increases your Magicka by 40-70 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 100 poison damage to any nearby enemies whenever you”re hit. Even if your spell absorption is 100%, 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.
Iron Armor Stats
Armor Class: Heavy Armor Rating: 60 Weight: 46 Value: 235 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 63.
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 100. 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.
Deathbrand Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 78.5 (+100 when the full set is worn) Weight: 13 Value: 11,269 Enchantable? No Tempering? No
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: +100 Armor The Deathbrand Armor set provides powerful enchantments and an exceptionally high armor rating of 178.5. 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.
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.
Ancient Shrouded Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 72 Weight: 7.5 Value: 2,346 Enchantable? No Tempering? Yes Obtained: Complete the “Locate the Assassin of Old” quest
Ancient Shrouded Cowl: Bows deal 35% increased damage. Ancient Shrouded Armor: 100% 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.
Fur Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 44-46 (based on armor variants) Weight: 10-11 Value: 82-88 Enchantable? Yes Tempering? Yes Obtained: Bandits and world loot
Skaal Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 46 Weight: 9.5 Value: 560 Enchantable? Yes Tempering? No 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.
Nightingale Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 69 Weight: 18 Value: 3,085-9,646 (scales with level) Enchantable? No Tempering? Yes Obtained: Complete the “Trinity Restored” quest
Nightingale Hood: Illusion spells cost 12-17% less to cast. Nightingale Armor: +20-40 Stamina. Increases Frost Resistance by 15-50%. Nightingale Gloves: Lockpicking is 15-25% easier. One-handed weapons deal 15-25% 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.
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.
Ahzidal”s Armor Stats
Armor Class: Heavy Armor Rating: 87 Weight: 59 Value: 6,914 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.
Ancient Nord Armor Stats
Armor Class: Heavy Armor Rating: 60 Weight: 41 Value: 235 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.
Daedric Armor Stats
Armor Class: Heavy Armor Rating: 108 Weight: 81 Value: 6,050 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.
Worn Shrouded Armor Stats
Armor Class: Light Armor Rating: 35 Weight: 12 Value: 225 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.