Skyrim: Heavy Armor

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This article is about the skill. For the physical equipment, see Heavy Armor (item).

Skill: Heavy Armor
Heavy Armor

Heavy Armor is the skill governing your ability to move and fight in heavy armor. Each skill point increases your armor rating from heavy armor by 0.4% (1.5% for NPCs). The Heavy Armor skill tree has a total of 8 perks, requiring a total of 12 perk points to fill.

In-game description: Those trained to use Heavy Armor make more efficient use of Iron, Steel, Dwarven, Orcish, Ebony, and Daedric armors.

Additional types of heavy armor that are forgeable: ancient Nord armor, bonemold armorDB, chitin heavy armorDB, dragonplate, Imperial armor, Nordic carved armorDB, and stalhrim armorDB. There are also a few types of generic, unforgeable heavy armor: Dawnguard heavy armorDG, Blades armor, Falmer armor, and wolf armor.

Skill Perks[edit]

Heavy Armor Perk Tree
Juggernaut (5 ranks): 0/20/40/60/80 Heavy Armor. Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 20/40/60/80/100%.
Fists of Steel: 30 Heavy Armor. Unarmed attacks with Heavy Armor gauntlets do their armor rating in extra damage.
Fists of Steel
Cushioned: 50 Heavy Armor. Half damage from falling if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
Conditioning: 70 Heavy Armor. Heavy Armor weighs nothing and doesn't slow you down when worn.
Well Fitted: 30 Heavy Armor. 25% Armor bonus if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
Well Fitted
Tower of Strength: 50 Heavy Armor. 50% less stagger when wearing only Heavy Armor.
Tower of Strength
Matching Set: 70 Heavy Armor. Additional 25% Armor bonus if wearing a matched set of Heavy Armor.
Matching Set
Reflect Blows: 100 Heavy Armor. 10% chance to reflect melee damage back to the enemy while wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.
Reflect Blows
Heavy Armor Perk Tree
Perk Rank Description ID Skill Req. Perk Req.
Juggernaut 1 Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 20%.[1] 000bcd2a
2 Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 40%.[1] 0007935e 20 Heavy Armor
3 Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 60%.[1] 00079361 40 Heavy Armor
4 Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 80%.[1] 00079362 60 Heavy Armor
5 Increases armor rating for Heavy Armor by 100%.[1] 00079374 80 Heavy Armor
Fists of Steel Unarmed attacks with Heavy Armor gauntlets do their armor rating in extra damage. 00058f6e 30 Heavy Armor Juggernaut
Cushioned Half damage from falling if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.[2] 000bcd2b 50 Heavy Armor Fists of Steel
Conditioning Heavy Armor weighs nothing and doesn't slow you down when worn.[1] 00058f6d 70 Heavy Armor Cushioned
Well Fitted 25% Armor bonus if wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.[2] 00058f6f 30 Heavy Armor Juggernaut
Tower of Strength 50% less stagger when wearing only Heavy Armor.[2] 00058f6c 50 Heavy Armor Well Fitted
Matching Set Additional 25% Armor bonus if wearing a matched set[3] of Heavy Armor. 00107832 70 Heavy Armor Tower of Strength
Reflect Blows 10% chance to reflect melee damage back to the enemy while wearing all Heavy Armor: head, chest, hands, feet.[2] 00105f33 100 Heavy Armor Matching Set
  1. ^ a b c d e f Does not affect shields.
  2. ^ a b c d "All/Only Heavy Armor" does not necessarily need to be a matching set. For example, some pieces might be Dwarven and others might be Orcish. In addition, the shield can be Light without removing the effect.
  3. ^ A Set is Matched if the four pieces of worn armor (armor, helmet, gloves, boots) share the same material. Shields of all types match all armor.

Usefulness of Reflect Blows[edit]

While the description of Reflect Blows seems potent, it does not entirely work as described. Indeed, opponents who have the perk (such as the Ebony Warrior) can one-hit-kill you in certain circumstances if the perk triggers, the damage is calculated a little differently for players.

The perk will not reduce damage taken. When it triggers, a melee attacker will take some of the damage dealt to you, but you will also take that damage. If your character that has reached the armor cap of 567 (which grants an 80% damage reduction) it means in the damage reflected back at attacker is also reduced by that same 80%. The damage reflected back is also affected by the Block skill, which caps at an 85% damage reduction. The usefulness of the perk becomes questionable as the most damage you can mitigate with heavy armor and block is 97%, meaning you will reflect only 3% of the damage an enemy does to you. On Master difficulty the perk becomes almost worthless because while you take double damage, the damage you reflect is also subject to the half damage you deal.

Comparison to Light Armor[edit]


  • Heavy armor is more protective than light armor until you reach the armor cap.
  • You can deal more unarmed damage with the Fists of Steel perk. This can be combined with the Fortify Unarmed enchantment (and any racial bonuses) to provide a viable alternative to weapons and magic. However, you will need a lot of fortification to keep it viable at higher levels.
  • The Reflect Blows perk deals bonus damage to enemies, allowing you to more quickly dispatch groups of enemies.
  • Heavy armor has perks for mitigating stagger and falling damage.


  • Heavy armor weighs more than light armor, which causes you to move more slowly and takes up more of your available carry weight. The Conditioning perk and the Steed Stone power negate these disadvantages.
  • Stamina is consumed at a greater rate while sprinting. The Conditioning perk and the Steed Stone power negate this disadvantage.
  • Wearing heavy armor creates more noise while moving, which makes it harder to sneak. This can be negated via the Conditioning perk, or the muffle effect.

Skill Increases[edit]

Character Creation[edit]

The following races have an initial skill bonus to Heavy Armor:


Note: Trainers that double as followers can train you for "free". They will still charge you, but you can get the gold you spent back by checking their inventory.

This exploit is no longer possible as of version 1.2.6 of the Unofficial Skyrim Patch.

Free Skill Boosts[edit]

Skill Books[edit]

Gaining Skill XP[edit]

  • Armor skill increases are based on the raw attack rating (plus any power attack bonuses) of an enemy strike.
  • Methods that improve armor rating, such as Smithing, skill enchantments, spells, potions or shouts, have no adverse effect on the XP gained. For example, a character with an armor rating of 400 will receive the same XP as a character with an armor rating of 100 for the same enemy strike.
  • The number of heavy armor items simultaneously worn by the player does increase XP gained. For example, receiving damage while wearing four pieces of heavy armor will result in more XP than wearing three pieces.
  • Regenerate Health potions and enchantments can help with staying alive while training, potentially allowing you to leave the game unattended. This can also be accomplished with natural health regeneration during brawling sessions with NPCs or when fighting very weak enemies like skeevers, though skill gains will be very slow.


  • Once your Heavy Armor skill is level 30 or higher, guards will begin to say, "Best offense is a good defense, am I right?"
  • Heavy Armor is the only skill that can directly modify unarmed attacks by way of the Fists of Steel perk. The perk modifies the damage done by unarmed attacks by the worn gauntlets' base armor rating, unmodified by perks, enchantments, or skill levels. This means Daedric gauntlets only add 18 damage to your unarmed attacks no matter what. The Khajiit Claws racial ability should be on par with the Orcish gauntlets (15 base armor rating). The Claws ability stacks with this perk (so Claws + 100% base armor rating of gauntlets + base damage = damage). Making use of the Fortify Unarmed Damage enchantment will further raise the damage done with fists.
  • Damage done by fists will increase heavy armor skill if heavy armor gauntlets are worn, but the experience given is drawn from the base damage of the gauntlets before player perks, tempering or enchantments, thus you will often level faster with rapid, repeated blows using a simple set of iron gauntlets than you will with stronger gauntlets that hit harder and may kill an opponent in fewer hits. For example, a set of gauntlets with a base armor rating of eighteen could be tempered, used with Fists of Steel and enchanted with Fortify Unarmed Damage. With a high enough enchantment skill, they could easily surpass the damage done by much heavier, slower weapons, making the Dragonborn amazingly dangerous up close. But the experience given per hit is calculated from the base armor rating of eighteen, thus all bonus damage reduces the number of blows you can make (and XP you can gain) before the opponent dies.
  • Note that when leveling up Heavy Armor, you have to take damage from an outside source—Equilibrium, for example, will not level up the skill. The amount of damage a blow would cause will dictate the amount of experience you gain, not the number of hits you take. One way of leveling up Heavy Armor is by fighting giants. From a starting level of 15, by training against a giant you can reach a level of over 50 within 5 minutes of getting bludgeoned, provided you don't die. A healing spell would be most helpful while training. Note that at early levels, the giant's ground shatter attack with its club is often fatal, unless you have a lot of health to spare.


  • With the Conditioning perk, when you carry more weight than you could without the perk, and you save a game, upon loading from inside the game, you will be over-encumbered (as if you didn't have the perk) until you open your inventory. This typically occurs only after an event, such as your death, removing all of your active effects. If you die and then quickload, you may become affected by this bug until you relaunch the game. The same behavior can be observed with the Steed Stone effect which is identical to Conditioning and the Light Armor perk Unhindered.
    • If this happens, entering your inventory will let the game readjust your carry weight to its proper value.
  • With the Conditioning perk active, you can stack the same type of Heavy Armor that is currently equipped without adding to your Carry Weight. For instance, if you have an Iron Helm equipped and have another Iron Helm in your inventory, they will stack onto each other as if they are both equipped, but you will not gain additional Armor Rating or enchantment bonuses after the first equipped helm. Armor of the same type that you have enchanted will also stack but enchanted armor that you find or buy will not stack. The type of enchantment does not need to be the same in order for the armor to stack.
  • Ebony armor is unaffected by the Heavy Armor perk Matching Set.
  • When wearing an ebony helmet in third person, you may notice that your character's shadow does not have a head.
  • Tower of Strength does not apply the actual benefits described.
  • Dawnguard heavy gauntletsDG do not benefit from the Fists of Steel perk like other heavy gauntlets.
  • Armor types introduced in Dragonborn incorrectly get only a 20% bonus from Matching Set instead of the expected 25%.