originals\ Nov 18, 2011 at 11:25 am

Guide: Armor in Skyrim


Nords and ladies, if you are traveling the mean tundra of Skyrim, you must pack protection.  Let’s face it, wolves are everywhere.  Everywhere.  You have bandits, giants, very angry bears, spiders, and let’s not forget dragons who like to drop in at the most inopportune times as well.  Unless you are some sort of mage, you better have armor.  Now I’m not just talking that heavy stuff, but at least something to absorb a bit of things trying to tear you apart out there.  If you want to be sneaky or mobile, I hear ya – but still wear light armor. 

The armor guide is going to tell you the basics you should know before scouring the snow filled cliffs of Skyrim.  Did you want to craft?  This guide will teach you what your smithing goals should be and what to expect.

Armor Types:

Once you create your Skyrim character, a question you are going to want to ask is, “what type of armor will I want to wear?”  Do I want to be a mage, keep mobile, or be tank like?  The two categories for armor are light and heavy.  There is a perk for each category that will make your armor and armor wearing more efficient.  Mage robes actually fall under light armor.  The armors and their categories are listed below:

Light Armor:

  • Robes (all types)
  • Hide Armor
  • Imperial Light Armor
  • Studed Armor
  • Leather Armor
  • Thieves Guild Armor
  • Dark Brotoherhood Armor
  • Nightingale Armor
  • Elven Armor
  • Scaled Armor
  • Glass Armor
  • Forsworn Armor
  • Stormcloak Armor
  • Dragon Armor

Heavy Armor:

  • Iron
  • Imperial
  • Steel
  • Steel Plate
  • Falmer
  • Ancient Nord
  • Dwarven
  • Orcish
  • Ebony
  • Daedric
  • Dragonplate


Before you decide – yes – I want to smith, try to figure out what your smithing goal is.  What is the type of armor you want to smith?  The smithing tree is split into two directions, left and right.  The left direction is for light armors ending at dragon armor.  The right direction is for heavy armors, also ending at dragon armor.  With dragon armor you can make light and heavy armor but it’s unlocked at 100 smithing - so you deserve it.

Light Armor Smithing:

  • Elven Smithing – 30 smithing
  • Advanced Armors (scaled and plate) – 50 smithing
  • Glass Smithing – 50 smithing
  • Dragon Armors – 100 smithing

Dragon armor has the best stats as far as light armor is concerned.  While building your smithing up though and for early game, glass armor is the way to go.  Glass armor is fairly easy to build and very effective early.  If you are taking the light armor approach – I would get 50 smithing as soon as possible, make a full glass armor set, and start collecting dragon bones and scales while getting your smithing to 100.  A full set of Dragonscale armor, with shield, costs 14 dragon scales.

Heavy Armor Smithing:

  • Steel Smithing – 0 smithing
  • Dwarven Smithing – 30 smithing
  • Orcish Smithing – 50 smithing
  • Ebony Smithing – 80 smithing
  • Daedric Smithing – 90 smithing
  • Dragon Armors – 100 smithing

Unlike light armors, which heavy armor is ‘best’ is not so straight forward.  While Dragonplate is at the end of the tree, it is not the best.  Daedric Armor has better stats than Dragonplate.  So why get Dragonplate?  This may seem crazy, but collecting dragon parts is easier than finding all the ebony and Daedric hearts to make a full set of Daedric Armor.  So yes, hunting down dragons is easier than finding the materials to craft Daedric Armors.  Dragonplate requires 13 dragon scales and 6 dragon bones.  A full set of Daedric Armor, with shield, costs 17 ebony ingots, 5 Daedric hearts, and 10 leather straps.  So similarly to how you dealt with light armor, make the inferior Dragonplate until you collect the materials for Daedric Armor.

Side Notes:

  • You can also improve magic weapons through Arcane Blacksmithing – 60 smithing.
  • When you craft the armor, it will have better stats than if you find it due to the perk bonus.
  • To exploit smithing.  Travel to any blacksmith and buy all of their iron ingots and leather straps.  Then craft as many daggers as you can.  Sell them back to the blacksmith.  Fast travel to another blacksmith – do the same thing.  Rest if you need too.  Rinse and repeat and you will have 100 smithing in no time.  
About The Author
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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