Through the use of Smithing, Skyrim players can make their character incredibly powerful, but they'll need to know what they are doing. Although players can certainly get by with any armor so long as they level up their Smithing skill and enhance it, it also helps to understand the many different materials available to players within the world. There is a very clear hierarchy of how much protection each material provides, and the difference between these types is impactful, especially early on in the game. As such, it always helps to know the pros and cons of each material, since this will help to inform the player of what is best for them.


Players can find all sorts of unique armors in Skyrim, but this will focus more on the standard craftable armors. Most of these can be made at any forge provided the player has the appropriate Smithing skill unlocked to do so, and they are split up into light armor and heavy armor categories. The most important things to consider when crafting a weapon are its protection, weight, and looks.

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Even if players typically play Skyrim in first person, looking good while saving the world or taking over the Thieves' Guild is vital. Unfortunately, this trait can't be quantified or ranked, so the armor sets below will be ordered based on their base protection and weight. Protection is always considered more important than weight, and the two usually go up in tandem, though this is not always the case.

Skyrim - Light Armor

  • Hide
  • Imperial Light
  • Leather
  • Elven
  • Chitin
  • Scaled
  • Glass
  • Stalhrim
  • Dragonscale

Skyrim - Heavy Armor

  • Ancient Nord
  • Iron
  • Imperial
  • Steel
  • Bonemold
  • Dwarven
  • Chitin
  • Orcish
  • Ebony
  • Nordic Carved
  • Dragonplate
  • Stalhrim
  • Daedric

The list above is a good guide to get players started when it comes to smithing armor, but there are some specifics that are worth noting. First of all, these armors were ranked based off the protection and weight of the cuirass piece, so the full set results may be slightly different. There are also several uncraftable armor pieces that fit into this hierarchy in various locations. Finally, Stalhrim and Dragonplate provide the same protection, but frost resist enchantments on Stalhrim are 25% better and it weighs less.

When it comes to armor, a high enough level Smithing skill will see any piece of armor reach the maximum amount of armor a player can have in Skyrim. For this reason, it really is a better idea to just focus on what the player wants to wear in terms of weight and appearance when in the end game. Still, understanding the armor material hierarchy can be very helpful early on.

Skyrim is available now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.

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