RimWorld – What Is the Best Armor to Use?

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In a colony-sim such as RimWorld, survival is the most important part. You can’t do anything in this hostile world if your colonists die from a simple gunshot.

Usually, players will be able to survive if they have a good doctor and can constantly replace pawns, but some of them are just too important.

Recommended Read: How to Use the Neural Supercharger in RimWorld

The best way to make sure that you don’t lose colonists is to give them amazing armor that negates almost all damage.

The best armor that your colonists can use in RimWorld is the phoenix armor combined with a cataphract helmet.

Table of Contents

How Apparel/Armor Layers Work in RimWorld

All armor and clothes in RimWorld will cover one layer of the colonists. These layers exist to stop pawns from wearing more than one pair of pants, for example.

There are 5 layers of clothing that pawns can use to equip themselves with apparel and armor in RimWorld:

  • Skin
  • Middle
  • Outer
  • Headgear
  • Belt

Usually, pawns will use the “skin” layer to wear shirts and pants, the middle/outer for armor and more protective clothing, headgear for helmets or hats, and the belt for special useful items.

In general, you won’t be able to wear two types of clothes that are part of the same layer and that cover the same body parts. So, you can wear pants and a shirt, even though they are both part of the skin layer since they cover different body parts.

However, pawns can’t wear tribalwear and pants together since they are both skin layers and they both cover the legs.

Due to the existence of these many layers, some players either prefer wearing skin, middle, and outer clothing combinations, using three items, or just a skin and armor combination, since most heavy armor work as both middle and outer layers.

In general, your colonists should always wear a pair of high-quality pants and button-down shirts, combined with either good armor or nice clothing, such as dusters or parkas. Also, good headgear will always be a must, as pawns can easily die from a random shot to the head.

How Damage, Armor Penetration, and Armor Percentages Work in RimWorld

When a colonist in RimWorld is hit with an attack, the game will do some calculations to figure out how much damage they receive. The attack will have to go through each layer of clothing before hitting the pawn.

Depending on the armor rating of the clothes, the attack can either go through and deal full damage, lose half of its original damage, or completely fail to do any harm. The attack will go through this process for each layer of clothing.

So, an attack to the torso will have to go through that “damage test” process through the outer layer, then through the middle layer, and finally through the skin layer. Even though most armor works as both middle and outer layer clothing, it will only test an attack once.

When you look at a piece of clothing’s stats, you will see that it has an armor rating for sharp, blunt, and heat damage. In general, sharp damage is the most common type of damage in RimWorld. All bullets deal sharp damage, which has a chance of dealing the bleeding effect.

When a bullet hits one of your colonists, that bullet will first test its damage against the outer layer. If the outer layer has, for example, 100% sharp armor, there will be a 50% that the attack will deal 0 damage and a 50% that the attack will deal half damage.

This is because when you receive damage, the game will select a random number from 0 to 100 which will be tested against your armor rating.

If the number is over your armor rating, you will receive full damage. If it is under your armor rating, you will receive half the damage. However, if the number is under 50% of your armor rating, you will receive no damage.

This means that a 200% damage rating will render most attacks null if they don’t have armor penetration.

What is the Best Armor to Use in RimWorld

When it comes to armor in RimWorld, players will have to ask themselves if they consider movement speed important in battles. Because if they do, most armor will actually be quite horrible.

Even though the best armors in the game can usually lower most damage to 0, they will also slow your pawns down to a halt. Considering this, there are two armor combinations that could be considered the best in RimWorld:

  • Flak Vest + Duster + Cataphract helmet + Button-down shirt + Pants
  • Phoenix Armor + Cataphract helmet + Button-down shirt + Pants

Skin Layer

Usually, you should always have button-down shirts and pants made out of hyperweave, devilstrand, or thrumbofur. These are the best materials for defense and climate conditions.


The cataphract helmet is the best headgear in RimWorld, and there is no disadvantage in wearing one. At legendary rarity, it even has 200% sharp armor, protecting your head from most attacks in the game.

In general, as long as a colonist doesn’t have a reason to wear something else, everyone should wear cataphract helmets when you get close to the late game.

Otherwise, try to get flak helmets as soon as possible until you can get to marine helmets and the mighty cataphract helmets.

Middle + Outer Layers / Armor

Here comes the question if you prefer moving or fighting to the death. High-level power armors will usually lower move speed by 0.8. Considering that the normal move speed is 4.6, this means that most power armors will lower move speed by around 20%.

The phoenix and cataphract armors, which are the best power armors in RimWorld, are a much better choice if you think that your colonists will get hit more often than not.

However, if you think they will be safe most of the time, a flak vest plus outer layer clothing combination should be enough to keep you safe from insta-kills. Worst-case scenario, you can use this combination in the mid game and convert to full power armors in the late game.

Otherwise, the real question between players is which armor is better, the phoenix or cataphract armor. Well, the phoenix armor is a variant of the cataphract that lowers sharp and blunt damage in exchange for a -70% flammability chance.

Considering that a legendary phoenix armor also gets 200% sharp armor, which is the cap for resistance, and lowers the chance of burning alive and causing your pawns to start running around aimlessly, the phoenix armor is much better.

It also offers more fighting capabilities, giving you a flamebolt launcher that can burn a lot of targets at once.

The only disadvantage of the phoenix armor is the lowered blunt armor, compared to the cataphract. But, blunt damage is relatively rare in RimWorld, making this difference relatively irrelevant.

That’s everything you need to know about the best armor to use in RimWorld!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Adrian Oprea

Based in London, United Kingdom, Adrian Oprea is a Guides Writer. As a professional single-player RPG player, Adrian has often been stigmatized. He has decided to pour his frustration into writing guides!

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