Light vs Heavy Armor in Skyrim: I’ll never go back to my old armor

When I first set foot in the snowy expanses of Skyrim, I felt like a kid with a new game console – overwhelmed and giddy with possibilities. But the first time I felt the cold steel of a bandit’s axe in a roadside ambush, I faced a dilemma every Dragonborn confronts at some point: Light armor or heavy armor? I remember wishing for a “Strategy Guide” popup in the middle of Whiterun, a beacon to guide me on my armor journey. If you’ve been nodding along, thinking, “That’s so me!” then this guide is your long-awaited beacon.

Here’s a taste of the loot we’ll dive into:

  • The Perks of Light Armor: Why sometimes less (weight) is more.
  • The Might of Heavy Armor: When you want to feel like an impenetrable fortress.
  • Stealth vs. Sturdiness: Choosing based on your Dragonborn destiny.
  • Crafting Concerns: The resources you’ll need to master your armor game.
  • The Lore and Looks: Because in Skyrim, style is as crucial as strength.
  • Leveling Up: How your armor choice affects your growth in the game.

Ever felt like a low-level character trying to tackle a high-level quest when deciding on armor? Stick with me, and by the end of this guide, you’ll be the wise mage in your group, dropping knowledge scrolls on everyone. Ready to gear up? Let’s level up your armor game. Keep on reading, fellow Dovahkiin! ??️

A Comparison Between Light Armor Vs Heavy Armor in Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, like other role-playing games, presents players with a choice in armor types, each with its distinct advantages and disadvantages. The primary differentiation is between light and heavy armor. Let’s delve into a detailed comparison of these two categories, understanding them from both gameplay and lore perspectives.

1. Weight:

Light Armor:

  • Advantages: As the name suggests, it’s lighter. This means you can carry more items without becoming encumbered.
  • Disadvantages: Generally provides less physical protection than its heavy counterpart.

Heavy Armor:

  • Advantages: Offers superior protection, reducing more physical damage.
  • Disadvantages: It’s heavy, impacting your carrying capacity more than light armor.

2. Stealth:

Light Armor:

  • Advantages: Easier to move silently and remain undetected.
  • Disadvantages: Provides less protection during direct confrontations.

Heavy Armor:

  • Advantages: Great for direct confrontations due to enhanced protection.
  • Disadvantages: Clunky and noisy, making stealthy approaches more challenging.

3. Stamina and Mobility:

Light Armor:

  • Advantages: Uses less stamina when sprinting, allowing for quicker movements and dodges.
  • Disadvantages: Less protection during combat.

Heavy Armor:

  • Advantages: Ideal for tank-style gameplay.
  • Disadvantages: Uses more stamina when sprinting and might slow your character down.

4. Skill Perks:

Both light and heavy armor skill trees offer various perks as you level up. While both have their unique benefits:

Light Armor: Perks focus on evasion, regeneration, and benefiting from wearing a full set.

Heavy Armor: The skill tree benefits include more damage resistance and perks like “Fists of Steel” that make unarmed attacks stronger based on the armor rating of the gauntlets.

5. Aesthetics & Lore:

Light Armor: Often appears as more casual wear, like leather or fur. Fits the agile and roguish adventurer, like thieves or assassins. Its lore emphasizes mobility and stealth.

Heavy Armor: Showcases the image of a knight or a stalwart warrior. Think of the Dragonplate or Daedric armors. It’s for those who intend to face danger head-on, such as frontline fighters or tanky mages.

6. Upgrade Potential & Material Availability:

Light Armor: Materials for upgrades, like leather, are easier to find early in the game. However, the highest grades of light armor might not offer as much protection as heavy armors, even when upgraded.

Heavy Armor: Materials might be heavier and more challenging to locate, especially for the rare armors. But the potential for high damage resistance is greater.

7. Playstyle Suitability:

Light Armor: Perfect for archers, thieves, assassins, or mages who rely on mobility and stealth. A hit-and-run playstyle would benefit most from light armor.

Heavy Armor: Suited for warriors, battlemages, or any playstyle that involves taking a lot of direct hits. If you prefer being in the thick of battle, swinging big weapons, or taking hits while you cast spells, heavy armor is your best friend.

AttributeLight ArmorHeavy Armor
WeightLighter, more carrying capacityHeavier, less carrying capacity
StealthEasier to move silently; better for stealthNoisy; less suited for stealth
Stamina & MobilityUses less stamina; quicker movementsUses more stamina; potentially slower
Skill PerksEvasion, regeneration, full-set benefitsDamage resistance, unarmed attack benefits
Aesthetics & LoreCasual, roguish (e.g., thieves)Knightly, warrior-like (e.g., frontline)
Upgrade & MaterialsEasier materials; might have lower max defenseHeavier materials; higher potential defense
Playstyle SuitabilityArchers, thieves, hit-and-run tacticsWarriors, battlemages, direct combat


Both light and heavy armors in Skyrim have their distinct uses and appeal. The choice often boils down to individual playstyle and aesthetic preference. Some players might even mix and match, using light armor for stealth missions and heavy armor for intense combats. Remember, it’s a game, so the key is to pick what feels fun and right for you! Happy adventuring in the land of Tamriel!

In the next section, I will provide a detailed analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of wearing Light armor. Keep reading to determine if choosing the Light side is the right decision for you.

Ten Advantages and Ten disadvantages of Using Light Armor in Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim offers players intricate choices in gameplay, and choosing between light and heavy armor is one of them. Let’s focus on the light armor and evaluate its strengths and limitations.

Advantages of Using Light Armor in Skyrim:

  1. Mobility: Light armor allows the Dragonborn to move swiftly. When in combat, quick movements can often be the difference between life and death.
  2. Stamina Consumption: Sprinting and other actions consume less stamina when adorned in light armor, which means you can run, dodge, and power-attack more frequently.
  3. Stealth Benefits: For those pursuing a stealth-based build, light armor is less noisy, making it easier to sneak up on enemies without being detected.
  4. Quick Leveling Early On: Light armor tends to level up quickly in the earlier stages of the game because it doesn’t absorb as much damage as heavy armor, which means you get hit more often, thereby increasing the skill faster.
  5. Less Encumbrance: Light armor weighs less, leaving you with more available carry weight for loot, weapons, and other items.
  6. Easier Material Gathering: Many light armors, especially at the beginning, are made of leather and hides, which are abundant in Skyrim’s wildlife.
  7. Adaptability: Light armor suits a variety of playstyles, including thieves, archers, mages, and even warriors who prioritize speed over defense.
  8. Beneficial Perks: The Light Armor skill tree, with perks like “Agile Defender” and “Wind Walker,” offers enhanced protection and stamina regeneration, among other benefits.
  9. Fashionable Designs: Many players appreciate the aesthetic designs of light armor sets, which can appear more varied and intricate than some of the bulkier heavy armors.
  10. Quick to Equip and Store: Due to its weight, equipping, stashing, and retrieving light armor from storage is quicker, making inventory management smoother.

Disadvantages of Using Light Armor in Skyrim:

  1. Lower Defense: Compared to heavy armor, light armor generally offers less damage protection, especially in the early game.
  2. Frequent Repairs: Because you might get hit more often, light armor tends to degrade faster and needs repairing or replacing regularly.
  3. Vulnerability in Direct Combat: Without the protection heavy armor offers, direct confrontations with powerful enemies can be more lethal.
  4. Lack of Intimidation: Some interactions or encounters in the game might benefit from a more intimidating presence, which heavy armor tends to provide.
  5. Limit on Damage Absorption: With a ceiling on its armor rating, there’s a limit to how much damage light armor can absorb, even when fully upgraded.
  6. Less Beneficial for Tank Builds: Players who prefer to draw enemy attention and absorb damage will find light armor less suitable.
  7. Riskier Playstyle: Using light armor may require a more strategic or evasive playstyle, as making mistakes can be more punishing.
  8. Resource Intensive Upgrades: To achieve the highest grades of light armor, players might need to invest more in terms of resources and perks.
  9. Potential for Over-reliance: Players might become overly reliant on dodging or evading, which can be problematic in constrained spaces or when ambushed.
  10. Less “Epic” Feel: While subjective, some players believe that light armor doesn’t give that “epic” Dragonborn feel which some of the legendary heavy armors provide.

In conclusion, choosing light armor in Skyrim is a matter of personal preference and playstyle. It has its clear advantages for those valuing mobility and stealth, but also possesses limitations that might deter players seeking a more stalwart, tank-like experience. Remember, the beauty of Skyrim lies in its flexibility, allowing players to tailor their experience to their unique tastes and strategies.

Ten Advantages and Ten disadvantages of Using Heavy Armor in Skyrim

The intricate world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim lets players experiment with an array of playstyles. When considering heavy armor, it’s important to weigh both its assets and limitations. Let’s delve into the characteristics of heavy armor in the game.

Advantages of Using Heavy Armor in Skyrim:

  1. Superior Protection: Heavy armor provides a sturdier defense against attacks, often giving the Dragonborn the resilience to face stronger foes head-on.
  2. Tank Playstyle: For those looking to absorb hits and protect allies, heavy armor is ideal. It’s perfectly suited for players who love standing their ground in battle.
  3. Intimidation Factor: Wearing heavy armor can influence certain NPC interactions. The imposing stature can make certain tasks, like intimidating someone, easier.
  4. High Damage Resistance: When fully upgraded, heavy armor offers a substantial damage reduction, which can be a lifesaver in intense combat situations.
  5. Legendary Looks: Sets like the Daedric or Dragonplate armor have a distinct and “epic” appearance, catering to players who love a commanding presence.
  6. Beneficial Perks: The Heavy Armor skill tree, including perks like “Fists of Steel” or “Cushioned,” offers bonuses that enhance unarmed damage or reduce fall damage, respectively.
  7. Less Frequent Upgrades: Once you have a solid set of heavy armor, you might find less need to upgrade frequently, as the armor already offers ample protection.
  8. Survivability: In battles where dodging is not an option, heavy armor increases the chances of survival by reducing the damage taken.
  9. Stagger Resistance: Certain heavy armor sets or perks might offer better resistance against stagger effects, ensuring you remain steady during combat.
  10. Alchemy Synergy: Combining heavy armor with health-enhancing or regeneration potions can turn the Dragonborn into a nearly invincible force on the battlefield.

Disadvantages of Using Heavy Armor in Skyrim:

  1. Weight Issues: Heavy armor, as the name suggests, is heavy. This reduces the player’s overall carrying capacity for other items and loot.
  2. Reduced Stealth: Sneaking around in bulky armor is not efficient. Those aiming for a stealthy approach might find heavy armor too noisy and conspicuous.
  3. Stamina Consumption: Sprinting or other actions can consume stamina more quickly due to the weight of the armor.
  4. Slower Movement: Naturally, wearing heavy armor can slow down the Dragonborn’s speed, which might be detrimental during certain quests or escapes.
  5. Resource-Intensive: Crafting or upgrading heavy armor usually demands rare and expensive materials, making it a more resource-intensive option.
  6. Less Flexibility: In scenarios requiring swift reactions or quick retreats, the bulk and weight of heavy armor might be a disadvantage.
  7. Skill Leveling: Initially, leveling up the Heavy Armor skill might be slower than Light Armor since the player gets hit less due to the better protection it offers.
  8. Potential Over-reliance: Players might become overly dependent on the armor’s protection, potentially neglecting other defense tactics or strategies.
  9. Inventory Management: Due to its weight, managing inventory or shifting armor sets becomes a bit more tedious.
  10. Initial Accessibility: Some of the best heavy armors are not readily available early in the game or require facing formidable foes to obtain.

In summation, heavy armor in Skyrim is a boon for those who wish to exude power and fortitude, diving into the heart of battles without flinching. However, this strength comes with its set of challenges, particularly for those who prefer a more agile or stealthy approach to the game’s challenges. As with many aspects of Skyrim, the choice between light and heavy armor boils down to personal preference and the unique way each player chooses to face the world of Tamriel.


Journeying through Skyrim, with its towering peaks and treacherous valleys, often mirrors the daunting choices we face in our armor quests. Whether you’re a sneaky rogue or a formidable tank, your armor is an extension of your identity in the heart of Tamriel. Here’s a quick recap of our expedition:

  • The agility and stealth perks of Light Armor.
  • The indomitable strength of Heavy Armor.
  • Balancing Stealth vs. Sturdiness based on your Dragonborn’s role.
  • The resources required and the strategies for Crafting.
  • Diving into the Lore and Looks for that quintessential Skyrim style.
  • The path to Leveling Up with your chosen armor.

Our journey began with a dilemma, and now you’re armed with insights. But every story has its sequels. Ready for the “What Next?” chapter?

What Next?

I always believe in giving my fellow gamers something actionable to take away after our shared adventures. Here are some next steps to truly master your armor game:

  • Experiment: Spend a few in-game days swapping between light and heavy armor.
  • Consult NPCs: Get insights from in-game blacksmiths and warriors about their preferences.
  • Craft: Dive into crafting both armor types to understand resource needs.
  • Join Guilds: The Companions or Thieves Guild can offer specific insights into armor benefits.
  • Engage with the Community: Join Skyrim forums and discuss armor strategies with fellow players.


Nick Sinclair

Nick Sinclair, a gaming aficionado since the Commodore 64 era, studied Creative Computer Games Design in university before founding his own gaming company. Discovering a passion for content creation, Nick now helps gamers squeeze every drop of fun out of their favorite gaming hardware

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