The Complete 5e Armor List: Including Mithral Options

Last Updated on November 30, 2023

Armor is a piece of equipment that increases our base Armor Class, or AC.

Without armor or a shield, a player character’s base AC is 10 + their Dexterity modifier.

The armor you wear can also impact your ability to move stealthily.

Light, Medium, Heavy Armor and Shields

There are three categories of armor that we can have proficiencies in: light armor, medium armor, and heavy armor.  In addition, shields grant extra AC.

We will also cover how long it takes to put on or take off armor.  This is known as donning and doffing.

Light Armor

Proficient Classes: Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock

Light armor is the most basic form of armor, little more than extra padding. This armor is best for highly dexterous characters since there is no cap to how much your dexterity modifier can benefit your AC. 

Rogues and most rangers will be at their peak performance with light armor.

For bards, rogues, and warlocks, this is the best armor proficiency you’ll pick up from your main class. All of these classes can do well with a high-dexterity build, so you don’t really need to focus on picking up extra proficiencies.

Medium Armor

Proficient Classes: Artificer, Barbarian, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger

The highlight of medium armor is that it uses a maximum dexterity bonus of +2. This means that characters with just a decent Dex score can still get the highest AC out of the armor they’re wearing.

Heavy Armor

Proficient Classes: Fighter, Paladin

Heavy armor offers the highest base ACs and doesn’t factor dexterity into their calculations at all. The biggest downside is that all heavy armor gives you disadvantage on stealth checks. 

This category of armor also comes with its own additional mechanic – strength requirements.

Three of the four heavy-armor varieties have a strength requirement to wear. If you don’t meet this requirement, your speed is reduced by 10 while wearing the armor.


Proficient Classes: Artificer, Barbarian, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Paladin, Ranger

A shield is extremely straightforward. It is a one-handed item that gives you a +2 bonus to your AC. While it doesn’t “set” your base AC, it does still follow all of the other rules of armor.

Shields are an excellent and simple way to boost your AC if you have the proficiency for it. 

The only downside of a shield is that it eliminates a free hand. This means that you can’t use a shield while holding a two-handed weapon and that you can’t casually drink a potion if you’re holding a shield and a one-handed weapon. 

Spells with somatic requirements (hand movements) also require a free hand to cast. So if you’re a caster that also utilizes weapons, you’ll probably want to avoid picking up that shield as well.

Donning and Doffing Armor

The last thing to remember with armor is that it takes time to put it on (don) or take it off (doff). Going into combat isn’t as easy as snapping your fingers and being all equipped and ready to fight.

If you don’t spend the proper amount of time putting on your armor, you don’t receive the benefits of its AC.

This may seem inconsequential, but if you forget to put your armor on, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage in combat.

Even light armor takes an entire combat to don, and an ambush by a band of goblins probably won’t sit and wait for you to get all armored and ready to go.

Armor Proficiencies

Armor Proficiency:  You don’t need proficiency to wear armor.

However, armor proficiencies aren’t useless. 

While wearing armor you aren’t proficient in, you have disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws that rely on Strength and Dexterity, and you lose the ability to cast spells.

The proficiencies granted to you by your class are typically more than enough. We don’t normally see rogues in medium armor or wizards in full plate mail.

Feats that grant Armor Proficiency

You can also pick up an armor proficiency by taking a feat as there is a feat for each proficiency. The only drawback to this method is that each feat requires you to have proficiency in the next lowest type of armor.

Lightly Armored

You have trained to master the use of light armor, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your strength or Dexterity score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with light armor.

Moderately Armored

Prerequisite: Proficiency with light armor

You have trained to master the use of medium armor and shields, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength or Dexterity score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with medium armor and shields.

Heavily Armored

Prerequisite: Proficiency with medium armor

You have trained to master the use of heavy armor, gaining the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • You gain proficiency with heavy armor.

Each of these feats also allows you to increase a relevant ability score by 1. Considering that you’ll be taking this in place of an ASI, this is definitely a welcome addition.

Now, there are also a few feats that you can pick up if you’re just looking to improve your armor. The medium armor master and heavy armor master each give you a few bonuses to wearing their respective armor types. 

Medium Armor Master

Prerequisite: Proficiency with medium armor

You have practiced moving in medium armor to gain the following benefits:

  • Wearing medium armor doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • When you wear medium armor, you can add 3 rather than 2 to your AC if you have a Dexterity of 16 or higher.

Heavy Armor Master

Prerequisite: Proficiency with heavy armor

You can use your armor to deflect strikes that would kill others. You gain the following benefits:

  • Increase your Strength score by 1 to a maximum of 20.
  • While you are wearing heavy armor, bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage that you take from nonmagical weapons is reduced by 3.

Medium armor is definitely the better of the two, allowing you to ignore the disadvantage certain medium armors would impose while also getting an improved AC.

Mithral Armor

Mithral Armor

If the armor type made from mithral normally imposes disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) Checks or has a Strength requirement, the mithral version of the armor doesn’t.

Applicable Armor:

Chain ShirtMedium13 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Scale MailMedium14 + Dex modifier (max 2)Disadvantage
BreastplateMedium14 + Dex modifier (max 2)
Half PlateMedium15 + Dex modifier (max 2)Disadvantage
Ring MailHeavy14Disadvantage
Chain MailHeavy16Strength 13Disadvantage
SplintHeavy17Strength 15Disadvantage
PlateHeavy18Strength 15Disadvantage

This truly remarkable material provides a couple very basic benefits to any armor made of it.

As always, happy adventuring.

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