Skyrim: Top 10 Best Armor Sets and How to Get Them

Skyrim has a ton of armor to find, so here are the Top 10 best armors and how to find them.

Image via Bethesda Softworks
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Skyrim is a game that’s simply ageless. Despite being released 12 years ago, it remains one of the most-played games on Steam. No game has inspired wonder like The Elder Scrolls 5. Whether it’s the feeling of adventure around every corner, the way your own exploration is consistently rewarded, or the absolute god-tier soundtrack, Bethesda’s epic creates awe like few other titles. Part of what makes it so rewarding is the equipment. Here are the Top 10 best armor sets and how to get them in Skyrim.

Top 10 Best Armor Sets and How to Get Them in Skyrim

Image via Bethesda Softworks

Elven Armor

  • Armor Rating: 79.
  • Where to find it: Blacksmiths, Thalmor enemies.
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 30 (Elven Smithing perk).

I can feel veterans of the series throwing their Dragonborn helmets at me, but hear me out. Elven Armor is some of the earliest you can find. Not only that, it’s also some of the best-looking in the game. Effective armor is great, but if you look dumb wearing it, is it even worth wearing? Elven Armor is much more for the light armor crowd, as it keeps your weight relatively low while giving you decent defensive ability.

Ancient Shrouded Armor

  • Armor Rating: 72.
  • Where to find it: Complete the Dark Brotherhood questline several times; kill the Assassin of Old.
  • How to craft it: Can’t be crafted.

Another set for those who like stealth and leaving before the heavies arrive, Ancient Shrouded armor is among the best light armor sets in Skyrim. Though it has a low armor rating, this set’s special perk that sets it apart from others in its class. With the full set, you get Poison immunity, muffled movement sound, 3% more bow damage, 2x damage on sneak attacks, and 25% armor bonus for wearing the full set. As bows are typically the weapons Skyrim players tend to utilize the most, it’s an outstanding set for long-range players.

Related: Best Bows in Skyrim, Ranked

Steel Plate Armor

  • Armor Rating: 87.
  • Where to find it: At Level 18 or higher: Bandit Chiefs, Rigel Strong-Arm in Pinewatch, Atar in the Sanuarach Mine. Below Level 18: NPCs in Solitude and Whiterun.
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 50 (Advanced Armors perk).

If you’re looking for some of the best-looking armor in the game that boasts a hefty defensive rating, look no further than Steel Plate Armor. This beastly-looking set is no frills, but it lets you tank anything head-on for a good portion of the game. For the early- to mid-game, it’s hard to find better protection when wearing a full set. This is great for melee players venturing out without companions.

Nordic Carved Armor

  • Armor Rating: 119.
  • Where to find it: At Level 25 or higher with the Dragonborn DLC: chests, low-level bounty collectors, bandit bosses, and random hired thugs.
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 50 (Advanced Armors perk).

The Nordic Caved Armor is another fantastic option for both fashion and practicality. It’s also one of the highest-rated sets in the entirety of Skyrim. It’s going to cost you a bit in the weight department, so make sure you’ve got a decent amount of weight to spare. Arguably the best armor added post-launch, the Nordic Carved Armor is a shining example of Skyrim at its creative best.

Dragonscale Armor

  • Armor Rating: 111.
  • Where to find it: At Level 50 or higher with the Dragon Armor perk: in random chests.
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 100 (DA perk).

Dragonscale Armor is the perfect complement to anyone who cares about being, you know, the Dragonborn. Things is, it can be hard to find. You have to be at a high level and have a specific perk. Not only that, it can’t be found in any specific locations, so you’ll be spending quite a bit of time trying to survive until then. If something looks like it might hold something important in it, that’s what you need to search to possibly find the Dragonscale Armor. It’s a lot of work to get, but it’s among the coolest-looking and most effective armor sets you can find in Skyrim.

Ebony Armor

  • Armor Rating: 128.
  • Where to find it: Level 33 and higher: purchase from blacksmiths and general goods merchants; found in world chests (Boethiah’s Chosen, Angi’s Camp); by defeating the vaunted Ebony Warrior.
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 80 (Ebony Smithing perk).

The first time I came across Ebony armor in Skyrim, it was just an “oh, hell yeah” moment. Not only does it look perfectly high-fantasy, but it’s one of the earliest high-level sets available, making you a tank almost from the beginning. There are many locations you can find it in, no matter where you are in your playthrough. It’s relatively easy to smith, too, if you’ve spent a lot of time in the Labyrinthian or pillaging tombs.

The one caveat is the set’s tremendous weight: a whopping 76 pounds. Be sure you’ve increased that carry capacity before picking this one up. Though, I promise I’m not saying to use console commands to do it.

Dragonplate Armor

  • Armor Rating: 136.
  • Where to find it: At Level 40 or higher: random chests; not worn by enemies
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 100 (Dragon Armor perk).

Although I prefer the look of the Dragonscale Armor, I can’t deny how useful the Dragonplate armor is. While it’s certainly weighty, coming in at a massive 79 pounds, this is arguably the best armor in Skyrim. It’s random locations make discovering the armor feel special; you never know where you’re going to find it. You would think an enemy would wear some of the most powerful armor in existence, but hey, they’re not the Dragonborn, and you are, so go for it.

Ahzidal’s Armor

  • Armor Rating: 87.
  • Where to find it: Complete the Dragonborn DLC quest, Unearthed.
  • How to craft it: Can’t be crafted.

It’s ugly; it’s identical to the base Ancient Nord armor and boasts a middle-of-the-road armor rating, so why is it on our best Skyrim armor list? Well, it’s the special effects this full armor set has to offer. First off, any enemy that hits you with a melee attack has a chance to be paralyzed. This immediately offsets the somewhat unimpressive armor rating.

You also have Waterwalking, the ability to absorb 50% of the Magicka from any spell that hits you, and your Conjuration and Rune spells gain a much larger range. This lets you plant traps far away and summon creatures to fight for you while you hang back completely unnoticed. Unearthed is a rather lengthy quest, but completing it will net you all the pieces needed for its set.

Deathbrand Armor

  • Armor Rating: 78 (+100)
  • Where to find it: Complete the Deathbrand side quest; read a copy of Deathbrand from Tel Mithryn or Raven Rock Temple in Solstheim. Alternately, find the chest in Haknir’s Shoal.
  • How to craft it: Can’t be crafted

Most Skyrim armor sets have a somewhat uniform look to them. Deathbrand Armor breaks that mold, giving us a striking and shining piece of equipment that stands out brilliantly. On its own, the defense rating is pretty unimpressive. However, wearing the full set increases your armor rating by 100. This one perk means it’s unmatched in terms of total defense.

Collecting it is a bit of a pain, though. The Deathbrand side quest will guide you to each location, and you’ll have a variety of tough fights to get through, including ones against Ash Spawn and Reavers. It’s a lengthy collectathon, but it’s so worth it.

Daedric Armor

  • Armor Rating: 144.
  • Where to find it: At Level 49 or higher: Defeating boss-level enemies. Beat Legendary Dragons (low drop rate). Buy from Dremora Merchant (Dragonborn DLC).
  • How to craft it: Smithing Level 90 (Daedric Smithing perk and Daedra Hearts).

By far the coolest-looking and hardest armor to obtain, Daedric Armor is the best out there when it comes to piece-to-piece value. The best all-around armor set, it loses nothing when mixed and matched with other sets. Boss-level enemies are your best bet, though you can defeat Legendary Dragons, which can also drop it from time to time (those are tough fights, though) You could also buy it.

However, the tough part here is you need Daedra Hearts to make the armor. Enemies that drop these are generally Thalmor Wizards, but you can occasionally find a Vigilant of Stendarr carrying one, as well. Anytime you see a Dremora in the distance, fight it because they’ll always drop one. It’s better to find this armor than make it, but if you don’t feel like taking down dangerous bosses, you can get lucky and find it on occasion.

Those are the Top 10 best armor sets and how to get them in Skyrim. There are so many more to find, but these are the ones you should focus on. Hopefully, this guide helped you out, and if so, check out the rest of our Skyrim guides.

About the author

Adam Braunstein

Adam Braunstein is a video game writer for Gameskinny a VR expert, actor, and all-around gaming enthusiast. His work has appeared on Attack of the Fanboy, Daily Gamer, VR Fitness Insider and The Nerd Stash. He loves games of all genres and exploring the amazing worlds that video games have to offer.