best heavy armor in skyrim

Best Heavy Armor in Skyrim

Latest posts by Alex Maksymiw (see all)

As of late, I’ve been studying the art of Smithing, researching and tinkering away to create the best Heavy Armor Skyrim has ever seen. However, this was easier said than done. The requirements for crafting top-end gear will cost you an arm and a leg, but it’s worth it.

Living in Skyrim in the Fourth Era is not easy; it could be the most dangerous time to be alive! The region is divided by a fierce civil war; dragons have returned to the land burning farms and destroying settlements. To make matters worse, the Imperial Empire is starting to crumble under the pressure of taxing peace treaties with the Aldemeri Dominion, and you could be killed for worshipping the wrong God!

So investing in a set of robust Heavy Armor is a great idea! Now, my history knowledge is a little rusty, but it’s my understanding that back in the old days of knights, kings, and crippling diseases (sounds like a teen rom-com set in the 10th century) that only the wealthy could afford.

Bottom Line-Up Front

If you’re too busy hunting dragons, don’t worry, I got you. Here are all the important details wrapped up for you here:

All the armors on this list are fantastic choices to protect your character. However, the Azhidal’s Armor, despite having one of the best armor ratings – weight ratio in the game, is situational and is best used by a mage.

The best-crafted Heavy Armor sets, such as Daedric Armor, Stalhrim Armor, and Dragonplate Armor, while having the best base Armor Rating in the game can be even better depending on your Enchanting, Alchemy, and Smithing skill.

Enchanting is a broken skill that can significantly increase the value and defensive abilities of your Heavy Armor set. The Extra Effect perk enables the player to apply two enchantments to each armor piece.

Selection Criteria

To bring you a list of the best Heavy Armor in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, we first need to consider what distinguishes a set of Heavy Armor from the rest. Skyrim is a dangerous region of Tamriel, and warriors will need a thick armor set to survive bandits, dragons, and giants. Here are some considerations I took to piece together this list:

  • The set of Heavy Armor must provide the player with high protection against the foes of Skyrim.
  • Heavy Armor is the heaviest equipment in the game and can quickly fill up your character’s weight. Therefore I’ve added Heavy Armor sets with the best weight relative to their armor rating.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an old game, so I included Creation Club, Dawnguard, and Dragonborn DLC content in this list.
  • Although shields add protection and count towards your armor rating, they don’t class as pieces of armor and therefore don’t gain any bonuses from the Heavy Armor or Light Armor skills. Therefore, I did not include Shields in this list.

It’s good to note that with the Conditioning Perk, active Heavy Armor weighs nothing, no longer slows you down, and consumes less Stamina when Sprinting. So you can focus on Armor Rating over armor weight. However, I’ve ignored this perk for the sake of early-mid players who don’t have a seventy Heavy Armor skill level.

Wolf Armor

wolf armor skyrim

  • Armor Rating: 72
  • Set Weight: 59
  • Tempering: Steel Ingot

The Companion’s Wolf Armor made it to the list as one of Skyrim’s best Heavy Armor sets. This armor set provides the weakest armor rating of any other Heavy Armor set in this list. However, this set outclasses every other armor set in this list in weight.

Life in Skyrim as a Two-handed warrior is heavy; your inventory is quickly swallowed up by a Heavy Armor set and Two-handed weapon, especially if you’re lugging a Dragonbone Warhammer around. The Wolf Armor set is light, sitting at 59 weight, giving you more inventory space to haul treasure from dungeons.

Wolf Armor can only be purchased from Eorlund Gray-Mane in Whiterun after joining The Companions and completing the “Proving Honor” quest. You cannot craft Wolf Armor, but you can temper it at the workbench with Steel Ingots.

Wolf Armor isn’t the best Heavy Armor set on this list, but it stands out as the best Steel set variation due to its low weight, making it one of the best picks of Heavy Armor early in the game.

Bonemould Armor

  • Armor Rating: 73
  • Set Weight: 59
  • Tempering: Bone Meal

The Bonemould Heavy Armor is another fantastic light Heavy Armor set to acquire. Bonemould Armor weighs the same as Wolf Armor and provides slightly better protection to the player.

Owning the Dragonborn DLC and having the Steel Smithing Perk unlocked will allow you to craft Bonemould Heavy even if your character has yet to visit Solstheim. However, you will need Netch Leather, Iron Ingots, and Bone Meal materials to craft the Bonemould Heavy Armor set.

The combination of low weight – armor rating ratio and widely available Bone Meal makes this armor set easy to temper and one of the game’s best low-tier Heavy Armor sets.

The Bonemould Armor has two interchangeable cuirass variants the Bonemould Guard Armor and the Bonemould Pauldron Armor. These variants are purely aesthetic but give the player extra customization options for the set.

The Improved Bonemould Armor set can be crafted once you’ve completed the “Taking Care of Business” Thieves Guild quest and the “Paid in Full” quest. The Improved Bonemould Armor has a superior armor rating of 79 but pays the price with a hefty weight of 70.

The Improved Bonemould Heavy Armor set is significantly better than Dwarven Armor in armor rating and weight.

Nordic Carved Armor

nordic carved armor skyrim

  • Armor Rating: 93
  • Set Weight: 55
  • Tempering: Quicksilver Ingot

Nordic Carved armor, as a contender, is one of the game’s best medium-tier Heavy Armour sets. The set has one of the best designs, in my opinion; however, to get your hands on a full set of Nordic-carved armor, you will have to jump through many hoops.

First off, you need the Dragonborn DLC installed. You can start to find Nordic-carved armor in loot as low as level 25. However, to craft Nordic-carved armor, you will need a smithing level of 50 and have the advanced armor’s perk unlocked. You’ll need an assortment of crafting materials to forge the set:

  • 21 x Steel Ingots
  • 5 x Quicksilver Ingots
  • 4 x Ebony Ingots
  • 10 x Leather Strips

The amount of crafting materials puts me off pursuing this Heavy Armor Set. Thankfully only Quicksilver Ingots are required to temper Nordic Carved Armor on a Workbench.

Nordic carved armor is equal to Orcish Heavy Armor, With a cuirass equal to Ebony armor. This makes the Nordic-carved armor a great alternative while you’re waiting to get your smithing up to level 80 so you can craft ebony armor.

Ahzidal’s Armor

  • Armor Rating: 87
  • Set Weight: 32
  • Tempering: Steel Ingot

The Ahzidal’s Armor set is a battlemage’s dream armor. The Ahzidal’s Armor set is unique and easily one of the best Heavy Armor sets in the game. It may not be able to stand up to most armor ratings on this list. However, it easily has one of the best armor-rating to weigh in the game.

Wearing all four pieces of the set grants the player +10 to Enchanting Furthermore, each piece of the Azhidal’s Armor set grants the player an effect:

  • Ahzidal’s Armor of Retribution: Enemies have a small chance of becoming paralyzed after attacking you with a melee weapon.
  • Azhidal’s Boots of Waterwalking: Grants the player the Waterwalking ability.
  • Azhidal’s Gauntlets of Warding: Wards are 25% less effective but are 50% more effective at absorbing incoming spells.
  • Azhidal’s Helm of Vision: Conjuration and Rune spells cost more Magicka but can be cast at a greater range.

The Ahzidal’s Armor et is very situational and requires a specific Mage build to make the most out of its bonuses. However, the armor rating alone and low weight make this set a great pick for warriors. In addition, you only need the Advanced Armors perk to upgrade this set.

To acquire Ahzidal’s Armor, you must own the Dragonborn DLC, acquire the “Unearthed” quest, and travel to Kolbjorn Barrow in Solstheim.

Ebony Armor

ebony armor skyrim

  • Armor Rating: 96
  • Set Weight: 62
  • Tempering: Ebony Ingot

The Ebony Armor Heavy Armor set is one of the most beloved armor sets in the game and is only outmatched to Daedric Armor and Dragonplate Armor. Ebony Armor can be crafted simply with Ebony Ingots and Leather Strips once the player acquires the Ebony Smithing perk at level 80 Smithing.

Ebony Armor gives off an ominous vibe, whether it’s dark ties the Ebony Blade has with Maphela, the Daedric prince of Murder, or because the Ebony Armor set is worn by the legendary Ebony Warrior.

The Ebony Warrior is a mysterious warrior who will challenge players to combat once they have reached level eighty. The Ebony Warrior can be found in every major city and will fight the player at Last Vigil. Killing the Ebony Warrior will give you a full set of enchanted Ebony Armor.

If the Ebony Armor is not your style, then the Ebony Mail offers an alternative style and grants the player Muffle and constant Poison Damage AOE effect for the set. You can acquire the Ebony Mail by killing the Champion of Boethiah at Knifepoint Ridge during the Boethiah’s Calling quest.

Clavicus Vile’s Masque is a unique helmet classed as Ebony armor and fulfills the Full Set Heavy Armor perk prerequisites. The helmet is acquired by completing “A Daedra’s Best Friend” quest and grants the player:

  • +10 Speech
  • 20% better battering prices with merchants
  • 5% Magicka regeneration

Falmer Heavy Armor

  • Armor Rating: 96
  • Set Weight: 56
  • Tempering: Chaurus Chitin

Falmer Heavy Armor, not to be confused with the inferior Falmer Hardened Armor or regular Falmer Armor, has one of the best Armor Rating to weight ratios in the game and is far superior to Ebony Armor!

Getting your hands on this set can be tricky, as pieces of the armor can only be found on Falmer Shadowmaster and Falmer Warmonger. Prepare for a fight, though, as these are the strongest Falmer enemies in the game! Note that these enemies will only spawn if you have the Dawnguard DLC and have reached level 48.

  • You can’t craft Flamer Heavy Armor, but you can improve it with the Advanced Armors perk at a workbench with Chaurus Chitin.

You can improve the Falmer Heavy Armor set by one point by swapping out the helmet for a Shellbug Helmet and still gain the benefits of the Matching Set perk. A Shellbug Helmet can be crafted with the following:

  • 2 x Shellbug Chitin
  • 2 x Iron Ingots

You can acquire Shellbug Chitin by mining Shellbugs in Sharpslope Cave and Forgotten Vale Cave.

Dragonplate Armor

dragonplate armor skyrim

  • Armor Rating: 102
  • Set Weight: 64
  • Tempering: Dragon Scales and Dragon Bones

Dragonplate Armor has the second-best armor rating out of all  Heavy Armor set in Skyrim, outclassed only by Daedric armor in vanilla Skyrim.

Dragonplate armor is much lighter than its Daedric Heavy Armor brethren. Pieces of the armor can be found in loot starting at level 40. However, you won’t be able to craft Dragonplate Armor unless you have the Dawnguard DLC installed and you’ve reached max level in Smithing and acquired the Dragon Armor Smithing perk.

Although the Daedric Smithing perk is unlocked before Dragon Armor and Daedric Armor has a better armor rating than Dragonplate Armor. Dragonplate Armor is significantly easier to obtain and craft due to the abundant supply of Dragon Bones and Dragon Scales that can be looted from dragons.

Daedric Hearts are so rare that Dragonplate Armor acts as a great stand-in before upgrading.

The Dragon Armor Perk can be unlocked even if the player invested in the Light Armor path in the Smithing Skill. This enables players to craft high-tier heavy armor for their followers without spending perks in the heavy armor path.

Stalhrim Armor

  • Armor Rating: 102
  • Set Weight: 59
  • Tempering: Stalhrim Ore

Stalhrim Armor has the same Armor Rating as Dragonplate Armor but has slightly better weight stats. Stalhrim equipment is exclusive to Dragonborn DLC owners, and pieces of Stalhrim armor begin to appear in Solstheim at level 35.

On the surface, Stalhrim Heavy Armor offers little more than a slight variation of stats with an ice-cool look. But thats far from the truth; Stahlrim equipment and Heavy Armor have the unique ability to improve the effectiveness of Resist Frost and Frost damage enchantments by 25%.

To learn how to forge Stalhrim Heavy Armor, you must complete the “A New Source of Stalhrim” Quest acquired at the Skaal Village; you will also need the Ebony Smithing perk unlocked. On a brighter note, Stalhrim Ore does not need to be smelted to be forged into Stalhrim Heavy Armor.

Consider completing your set of Stalhrim Heavy Armor with Stahlrim Two-handed weapons, as these improve Frost Damage and Chaos Enchantment effectiveness by 25%.

I highly recommend you check out CC’s UHD Stalhrim Weapons and Armor mod and the Refractive Stalhrim mod. These mods give the Stalhrim Heavy Armor a sweet new look and add refractive light from the icy-like material!

Daedric Armor

nordic carved armor skyrim

  • Armor Rating: 108
  • Set Weight: 81
  • Tempering: Ebony Ingot

Forged with Ebony Ingots and Daedra Hearts, Daedra Armor is the best armor in vanilla Skyrim. To forge Daedric Armor, you must obtain the Daedric Smithing perk at level ninety Smithing.

Forging Daedric Armor is easier said than done, as you’ll need five Daedra Hearts to craft a full armor set. You can often find Daedra Hearts during Daedric Artifact quests, to name a few:

  • “The Black Star”
  • “A Daedra’s Best Friend”
  • “Boethiah’s Calling”
  • “The Cursed Tribe”
  • “The Whispering Door”
  • “The Break of Dawn”
  • “Waking Nightmare”
  • “The Taste of Death”
  • “The House of Horrors”

Alternatively, you can purchase Daedra Hearts from Enthir at the College of Winterhold.

While Daedric Armor has the highest armor rating in vanilla Skyrim, it’s definitely not the best-looking armor set. That may be a hot take, but in my opinion, the armor looks a tad over the top.

I much prefer the Daedric Armor Remastered SE mod version of Daedric Armor as it remodels all the Daedric Artifacts, including Ebony Mail and Daedric Armor. If you’re looking for something even more outlandish, then check out the Daedric Armor SE mod.

Madness Armor

  • Armor Rating: 114
  • Set Weight: 88
  • Tempering: Madness Ingot

Madness Armor has the highest armor rating of any armor in the game. However, this comes at a hefty price to the armor set weight.

Madness Armor is only available if the Saints and Seducers Creation Club Addon is installed. An expansion themed around The Shivering Isle expansion for the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion that revolved around Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness.

You can acquire this armor set if you own the Skyrim Special Edition or Skyrim Anniversary Edition. However, not before completing the Saints and Seducers’ main storyline.

You cannot buy Madness Armor from any vendor in the game. But you can purchase Madness Ore, however rare. To craft Madness Armor, you must have unlocked the Ebony Smithing perk and reached level 80 Smithing.

  • Madness Armor can be tempered with Madness Ingots.

I included the Madness Armor in this as it’s safe to assume that most players have access to Saints and Seducers after Bethesda released it for free on all platforms for the release of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition.

Madness Armor was originally introduced in the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Shivering Isle DLC making it a very lore-friendly armor set.


Question: How Can I Increase My Carrying Capacity in the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Answer: The best way to increase your carrying capacity in Skyrim is to activate The Steed Stone outside of Solitude. This Standing Stone increases your carrying capacity by 100 and reduces your Heavy armor weight to zero. Allocating attribute points into Stamina will increase your carrying capacity by five units.

The Fortify Carry Weight enchantment can be applied to your equipment to increase your carrying capacity. Finally, the Extra Pockets perk found in the Pickpocket skill tree grants you an extra 100 points.

Question: How Can I Reduce the Weight of My Heavy Armor and Light Armor in Skyrim?

Answer: You can reduce the weight of your Heavy Armor by activating The Steed Stone. Heavy Armor and Light Armor can both become weightless by activating the “Weightless” and “Unhindered” perks in each skill tree.

Question: How Do You Level Up the Heavy Armor Skill in Skyrim?

Answer: To level up the Heavy Armor skill in Skyrim, take physical damage while wearing Heavy Armor. Note that the more pieces of Heavy Armor that are equipped, the faster you will gain experience. Therefore, I recommend wearing a full set of Heavy Armor to train the skill.

Best Heavy Armor in Skyrim: Conclusion

In conclusion, you can’t go wrong with equipping any of these armors featured in the list. However, I’d ensure that you frequently upgrade your armor to match your character level. Otherwise, a bandit’s blade will cut through your once hard-as-nails Wolf Armor like butter.

It’s possible to reach the armor cap with even mid-tier Heavy Armor. However, you will need max-level Alchemy, Enchanting, and Smithing skills to achieve this.

Dragonplate Armor should be your go-to Heavy Armor set if you use Light Armor but want to protect your followers; the crafting materials are a lot easier to come by than Daedric Armor materials; moreover, you can obtain the Dragon Armor perk regardless of which skill tree you pursue in the Smithing skill.

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