Barbarians are one of Dungeons & Dragons 5e’s most straightforward classes, bringing the beautifully simple combination of bloodlust and a big axe to any adventuring party.
This class is all about taking and dishing out tons of damage, which the barbarian’s core abilities like Rage support by giving them resistance to damage, extra attack damage, and a massive pool of hit points.
However, if all you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts to look like a nail. If you like the idea of a barbarian but feel like the class leaves you lacking versatility, you may want to consider Feats as a way of branching out in new directions.
Alternatively, if it’s a bigger, better hammer you’re looking for, the right Feat can also be a fantastic way to further augment the things the barbarian does best.
Feats are an optional rule for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that let you forgo an ability score increase in favor of giving your character new abilities.
Now, it’s worth noting that barbarians are a multi-ability-dependent (MAD) class, meaning they require high ability scores in multiple abilities.
Barbarians need a high Strength score to power their melee attacks, a decent Dexterity score to bump up their armor class (AC), and a high Constitution to keep their hit points high (and buff their AC thanks to Unarmored Defense).
Because Feats always involve sacrificing an Ability Score Increase, you should be careful not to pick one up unless you’re happy with your current ability modifiers.
If you’re happy with your Ability Scores, however, and are looking to round out your barbarian’s abilities with something a little more flavorful, here’s our list of the best Feats for the barbarian class in D&D 5e.
A great thematic and mechanical choice for the mobility-focused barbarian. When you take the Dash action on your turn to move double your movement speed, the Charger Feat lets you use your bonus action to also make one weapon attack or shove an enemy.
Also, if you move at least 10 feet in a straight line immediately before taking this bonus action, you either gain a +5 bonus to the attack’s damage roll (if you chose to make a melee attack and hit) or push the target up to 10 feet away from you (if you chose to shove and you succeed).
The extra shoving distance is probably only going to be situationally useful (when you’re fighting next to an environmental hazard or a big cliff, for example) but being able to give yourself a juicy +5 bonus to hit is a great way to make sure you hit something with high AC.
While the Chef Feat might initially seem like a bizarre choice for a fur-clad berserker, it can actually do a lot for your survivability. You get a +1 increase to your Constitution (or Wisdom), which is great for starters.
You gain proficiency with cook’s utensils if you don’t already have it and, during a short rest, you can prepare food that allows 4 + your proficiency bonus creatures who eat it and spend a hit die to regain an extra 1d8 hit points.
You can also prepare “treats” that grant temporary hit points equal to your proficiency bonus.
The classic barbarian wields a single massive weapon. However, with the addition of the Dual Wielder Feat, using an axe, sword, or hammer in each hand starts to look like a viable alternative – especially since you’ll get another attack to add your bonus Rage damage to each round.
You’re no longer restricted to using light weapons for two-weapon fighting, you can now draw two weapons in the time it would take you to draw one, and you gain a nice little +1 bonus to your AC.
A great Feat to pair with Dual Wielder above, Fighting Initiate lets you choose a fighting style, which can augment your melee prowess in a number of ways – although a nice alternative to this is multiclassing for a single level in Fighter.
Great Weapon Master
The Great Weapon Master Feat is probably the most iconic barbarian Feat pairing. If you want to go down the classic “berserker with a massive axe” route, this is the first Feat you want to pick up.
Great Weapon Master lets you take a -5 penalty to an attack roll with a two-handed heavy weapon. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage. This pairs really, really well with your Reckless Attack feature.
Also, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.
Definitely, a more situational choice that’s quite heavily reliant on having a high Charisma modifier, but if your party is virtually devoid of healers, Inspiring Leader can be an absolutely excellent Feat for granting huge amounts of temporary hit points to the entire party.
There honestly isn’t a single class in D&D 5e that can’t benefit from Lucky. I put this Feat on pretty much every character I play because being able to reroll any check, saving throw, or attack roll three times a day – or force an enemy to do the same – is flat out amazing.
There’s a danger when you play an ultra-tanky barbarian that, the bigger and stronger you get, the more likely it becomes that your enemies will flat out ignore you and try to get at some of the squishier heroes hiding in the back line.
One great way to stop these types of DM shenanigans is to pick up the Sentinel Feat, which allows you to make an attack of opportunity whenever an enemy moves into melee range, prevents enemies from effectively taking the Disengage action, and lets you use your reaction to make an attack against an enemy who attacks one of your allies within 5ft of you.
A lot of people tend to assume that barbarians and shields don’t play well together. While it’s true that your late game abilities like Brutal Critical benefit the most from weapons with big damage dice, the ultra-tanky barbarian can wield a shield and still benefit from Unarmored Defense.
The Shield Master Feat lets you claw some of that missing damage back by letting you make a shield bash as a bonus action if you attack on your turn.
This Feat also lets you add your shield’s AC bonus to any Dexterity saving throw you make against a spell or other harmful effect that targets only you. Pair this with a magic shield and this can really start to add up.
Also, if you make a Dexterity saving throw where a successful roll results in you taking half damage, you can use your reaction to take no damage.
Barbarians suffer from a chronic lack of skill proficiencies, so picking up either Skill Expert (which gives you one new skill proficiency and expertise in a skill of your choice, on top of a +1 bonus to any ability score you choose) or Skilled (which just gives you three new skills and is probably less good on a barbarian) can be a great way to round out your non-combat abilities.
Most barbarians tend to opt for the classic greataxe or greatsword, both of which deal slashing damage. The Slasher Feat – aside from making you sound like the villain in a horror movie – is a great way to augment your melee capabilities.
You increase your Strength (or Dexterity) by 1, and, once per turn when you hit a creature with an attack that deals slashing damage, you can reduce its speed 10 feet until the start of your next turn.
Also, if you land a critical hit, you impose disadvantage on all of the target’s attack rolls until the start of your next turn. Against high level enemies with two or even three multi attacks this can be hugely impactful.
Another classic barbarian Feat, Tavern Brawler boosts your ability to always be ready to fight using whatever you have to hand. When you choose this Feat, you can increase either your Strength or Constitution (either one is a great choice for a barbarian) by 1.
You become proficient in the use of improvised weapons, and your unarmed strikes gain a base damage die of d4, rather than the usual 1 + Strength modifier.
Also, when you hit a creature with an unarmed strike or an improvised weapon on your turn, you can use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the target.
Pretty much everything about this Feat helps augment the barbarian’s ability to thrive in the heart of a melee.
Lastly we have yet another classic Feat synergy for barbarians. This class is all about being tanky, using its massive pool of hit points to wear down enemies, so more hit points are never going to be a bad thing.
When you take the Tough Feat, your hit point maximum immediately increases by an amount equal to twice your level. For every subsequent time you level up, you gain an additional 2 hit points.
Because you miss out on all the other advantages of simply putting some extra points into Constitution, you should probably just pick up this Feat when your Constitution is already at 20.
Because you get the hit point equivalent of a tax rebate when you pick this Feat, you shouldn’t feel pressured to pick it up at earlier levels.