You can mix and match armor pieces from different sets to makeshift your own armor set during the early stages of the game in Skyrim.
However, in the late-game, you’d want to own a proper armor set, as enemies are tougher and can dish out more damage.
The game has different types of armor for different playstyles. The light armor provides decent protection but has low carry weight, which makes it best suited for stealthy gameplay.
On the other hand, the heavy armor provides better protection in exchange for high carry weight. This type of armor is best suited for warrior-class players who prefer face-tanking enemies.
The best armor sets are the ones that not only excel in any style of gameplay but are visually appealing as well.
In this article, we’ve handpicked and compiled some of the best armors (both light and heavy) that are great looking, have great enchantments, and also have a high armor rating. Let’s Discuss !
Dawnguard Heavy Armor
Starting our list with the best-looking armor. The Dawnguard heavy armor set is the signature armor set of the vampire-hunting faction, the Dawnguards.
This armor set comes in different color variants and features the best-looking helmet in the entire game.
With a base armor rating of 104, this armor is quite good for the early to mid stages of the game.
Wearing a full set of the Dawnguard armor will also give you a 25% resistance to vampire attacks making it an excellent option while fighting against vampires.
Needless to say, to get this armor, you’ll need to install the Dawnguard DLC expansion.
Once you have the DLC, start the main campaign and speak with Gunmar. He’ll give you the cuirass, boots, and gauntlets for free, but you’ll have to buy the helmet from him for gold coins.
You can also get this armor by looting it off Dawnguard Vampire Hunter and Scouts near Castle Volkihar.
Nordic Carved Armor
The Nordic Carved Armor is a set of heavy armor with a knight-like appeal with its steel and dark fur visual aesthetic.
This armor set has a base rating of 119 points, and you can take advantage of the smithing perks to further increase this value.
To get this armor set, you’ll need the Dragonborn DLC, and your character’s level should be 25+.
To get this armor set for free, loot the pieces from random treasure chests, reaver lords or marauders, bandit chiefs, and bounty collectors.
If you want to craft this armor yourself, level your Smithing skills to 50 and get the Advanced Armors perk from the skill tree. Then, you can craft this armor at any blacksmith forge.
Players who enjoy the stealth-based gameplay will definitely appreciate the Nightingale armor set.
This light armor is the signature set of the shadow faction, the Nightingales. The armor is also one of a kind set that features a cool-looking cowl.
Besides the visual aspects, the Nightingale armor set is enchanted with spells that boost the stealthy gameplay.
- The cowl reduces illusion spell-casting costs.
- The gauntlet makes lockpicking easier while simultaneously increasing the damage of one-handed weapons.
- The boost muffles your walking and running sound, making it much easier to move while remaining undetected.
- The cuirass increases your stamina points while also increasing frost resistance.
Although the total armor rating of this set is 69, wearing a full set of Nightingale armor will increase your total armor rating by 25 points.
To get your hands on this armor set, you must join the Thieves Guild and progress far into their main campaign. You’ll get all the pieces of this armor from Karliah during the Trinity Restored questline.
Tips: You should note that the Nightingale armor is a leveled item. While getting this armor set, the % of enchantment bonuses will depend on your character’s level. For example, when you get this armor set at level 10, the cuirass will only increase your stamina points by 20. But if you grab this set at level 32+, the cuirass will give you a whopping 40-point increase in your total stamina. So, to get the maximum bonuses out of this set, wait till you reach level 32+.
We’ve put Linwe’s and the Blackguard’s armor on the same list, as they are very identical both visually and functionally. They’re both light armor and suited for stealth gameplay.
The one thing that sets apart this armor set is the enchantment bonuses. While the Linwe’s armor leans towards a more offensive type of gameplay, the Blackguard’s armor is best suited for stealing and selling those stolen items.
- The Linwe cuirass increases your stamina points.
- Boots make you efficient at sneaking.
- The gloves boost your one-handed damage.
- The hood increases the bow damage.
- The cuirass increases your carrying capacity.
- The boots help your pickpocketing skill.
- The gloves make lockpicking easier.
- The Blackguard hood gives you a better price while selling stuff.
You can get Linwe’s armor by looting or pickpocketing Linwe during the Summerset Shadows quest line, whereas you’ll find the Blackguard armor in the basement of Glover Mallory’s House.
Ancient Shrouded Armor
The Ancient Shrouded armor is the signature armor set of the Dark Brotherhood guild.
Visually, the Ancient Shrouded Armor is pretty similar to the Shrouded Armor set. But stats-wise, this armor is miles off the Shrouded armor.
The total armor rating of the Ancient Shrouded Armor is 72, but when you equip the full armor set, you will gain a 25 points bonus. This makes it one of the best armor sets you can get in the early game. As for enchantment bonuses,
- The cuirass gives you 100% poison resistance.
- Boot muffles your footstep.
- The cowl adds 35% to your bow damage.
- The gloves increase the damage dealt by one-handed weapons by two times.
To get this armor, you must be a member of the Dark Brotherhood. Then, complete the Locate the Assassin of Old questline from Olava the Feeble in Whiterun.
The Stalhrim Armor is a unique set of armor made from enchanted ice, i.e., Stalhrim. This armor was added in the Dragonborn DLC expansion and is also among the set having high armor rating of 102.
There isn’t a particular enchantment on this armor set, but due to the nature of this armor, you’ll gain a 25% bonus whenever you apply frost resist enchantment to it.
This armor can only be found in Solstheim after reaching level 36+.
You can either loot the pieces of this armor from random chests and enemies or buy it from merchants in Solstheim.
If you’re looking to craft this set at the forge, make sure you’ve completed the following requirements.
- A New Source of Stalhrim questline.
- Reach level 80 in Smithing.
- Acquire the Ebony smithing perk from the Smithing skill tree.
The Ebony Armor is one of the best-looking and strongest armor sets in the game. Visually, the ebony armor features elegant black metal designs with silver engravings.
This heavy armor set also has a total rating of 128, which can be further upgraded with the Ebony smithing perk.
Since this is a high-tier armor set, you’ll have to be level 32+ to make this set start appearing in your game.
There are multiple ways to acquire this set. You can find it as random world loot from treasure chests or buy it from blacksmiths. There are a few guaranteed ways to get the armor set, and they are as follows.
- Treasure chest at Angi’s camp after reaching a higher level.
- Looting the Ebony Warrior.
- Looting the Champion of Boethiah.
If you prefer crafting this set at a blacksmith forge, ensure that your Smithing level is 80+ and that you’ve acquired the Ebony Smithing perk from the skill tree.
This might be the most savage armor set in the game. Essentially, this armor is made from the bones of the dragons.
With a total of 136 armor ratings, you can pretty much breeze through the entire game while wearing this armor set.
You can find this armor set randomly after your character reaches level 40+. But if you want to craft it yourself, you must level up your Smithing skills to level 100 and will also need some dragon’s remains.
The Daedric armor is the crème de la crème of all the armor sets in the game. Boasting a whopping 144 armor rating, this is the strongest set of armor you can own.
Besides the strong armor rating, Daedric armor also has a very sinister and intricate design befitting a Daedra. The armor features an ebony-like black metallic design with multiple protruding spikes.
While the armor does not have any enchantment bonus, wearing the full set of armor will increase your intimidation by 10%.
There are multiple ways to acquire this armor set, but first, you must reach level 49+. After then, you can loot it from boss chests, Legendary Dragons, and Revered.
If you’ve unlocked the Dremora Merchant perk from the Black Book: Untold Legends, then you can buy the armor set from him as well.
Crafting the armor set at the forge requires you to be at the Smithing level of 90+ and have the Daedric Smithing perk.
Note: Although you can also craft the armor at the Atronach Forge, it requires multiple rare resources. So, I recommend sticking to crafting the set at the forge.