With many players preferring bows, spells or dual-wielding, shields are often overlooked as a viable equipment type. The truth is, they can provide a huge armor boost, making you even more difficult to kill.
Blocking is an effective method of protection during hand to hand combat, significantly reducing all physical damage taken and sometimes knocking foes back.
Best used alongside a high damaging follower, most fights will be long but easy victories. Such a play-style can put players off but if you love being a tank, you’ll need to know which shield to use!
I’ll be going through the 10 best shields in Skyrim for this list. I’ve chosen heavy armor only, light armor shields aren’t really worth using for any play-style.
Note: If you’re playing Skyrim Special Edition, you already own all DLCs.
10. Targe of the Blooded
While it doesn’t provide much armor, Targe of the Blooded makes up for its defensive capabilities with a more offensive route. Bashing a tag will deal 3 bleed damage a second for 5 seconds. It doesn’t sound like much but combined with poisons and primary weapon attacks, you can melt enemies.
Equipping a tanky follower with this shield is a great strategy too, as followers like to bash a lot!
9. Ebony Shield
When building heavy armor, Ebony armor is the first major hurdle you need to overcome. Previous armor sets are decent but don’t do the job like Ebony does. Due to this, you’ll want to acquire a full set as soon as you can.
You can of course enchant an Ebony shield, I recommend fortifying health or stamina.
8. Aetherial Shield
How to get: Craft it during the Lost to the Ages quest.
Perhaps one of the most unique shields or armor pieces in the entire game, Aetherial Shield offers a weird defensive ability. Bashing an enemy will force them to become ethereal for 15 seconds, so they can’t attack or be attacked. Mostly useful while outnumbered to turn tides in your favor.
You can also use it to generate some down-time to heal up, replenish stamina/magicka or switch equipment. A decent base armor stat is also pretty nice. Don’t expect to use this in anything other than the early/mid stages of your play-through!
7. Dawnguard Rune Shield
The Dawnguard Rune Shield is a light armor shield, the only one to make this list. Bashing vampires will deal 10 extra damage, making it a great choice for your Dawnguard quest-line completion.
Its main enchantment is the secondary one, sustained blocking will create a sun shield. Draining stamina, it’ll reflect 10 sun damage back at any attackers. Sun damage is tripled against undead targets, so it’s insanely powerful against the likes of vampires and draugr!
6. Shield of Ysgramor
With a unique appearance and high base armor, this shield will serve you well. It’ll also increase your health by 20 points and provide a huge magic resistance of 20%!
Overall, the lack of fine-tuning regarding stats/enchantment doesn’t make it the perfect counter to a specific enemy type (i.e magical or physical) but it is competent facing either.
5. Dragonplate Shield
How to get: Found throughout Skyrim as loot from level 40. Or craft it.
With the 3rd highest base armor stat of any shield in the game, Dragonplate items are always effective. Found fairly far into your play-through, you might encounter better shields (further down on this list) but with a high enchanting/smithing skill, you could make a Dragonplate shield just as viable.
Very expensive to craft and considerably difficult to find, you’ll know you’re the king of Skyrim when you obtain it.
4. Auriel’s Shield
For a free Fus Ro Dah, Auriel’s Shield is perhaps the most fun of its type. When blocking, it stores damage taken, up to 3 charges. Power bashing when charged up will launch enemies flying, similar to the aforementioned shout.
Just note that it benefits from the Elven Smithing perk despite being classed as a Heavy shield.
3. Daedric Shield
How to get: Found throughout Skyrim as loot from level 48. Or craft it.
Of all non-unique shields in Skyrim, the Daedric variant boasts the highest base armor stat. It also looks incredible, as is common with Daedric items. A Daedra Heart is required to craft it, which are quite rare to obtain.
Enchanting it with a formidable spell will result in one of the best shields you can ever acquire!
Providing the highest base armor stat of any shield in the game, Spellbreaker is a unique shield like no other. Arguably the coolest looking shield, maybe the coolest looking piece of armor in the game. It’s the perfect compliment for any tanky build.
For facing enemy spellcasters, Spellbreaker produces a ward that blocks up to 50 spell damage when blocking. This also works against dragon fire attacks of course, making it the premier anti-spell shield in Skyrim!
1. Shield of Solitude
For general damage reduction, no other item in the game comes as close as the Shield of Solitude. Some shields may have a higher base armor but in terms of enchantment, well the Shield of Solitude is in a league of its own.
In addition to increasing magic resistance by 30%, all physical damage taken while blocking is reduced by 35%. This’ll make you almost invulnerable while blocking.
Oddly enough, you can disenchant this unique shield and apply the effects to another shield, such as the Daedric variant!