In a game as hardcore as Rust, you’ll need all the protection you can get. Even wearing simple armor can make the difference between life and death, so be sure to never leave the house without some on.
I should also note that Rust has frequent update which can bring nerfs and buffs to the items. There’s no point in sharing exact statistical numbers because it could easily change as time goes on. For this guide I’ll talk stats a little bit, but I’ll mostly be focusing on the utility of each given armor piece.
Related: Beginner’s Guide for Success in Rust
Armor isn’t a guarantee
There’s been a lot of talk amongst the Rust community about which is the best armor to use, but many of the armor pieces end up keeping the wearer alive just about the same.
This is because of the way damage is calculated, which is by a random number generator. Now, RNG isn’t by itself a bad thing, but I don’t think it has any place in the PvP aspect of the game. It’s great when the contents of airdrops are completely randomized, but when you shoot someone in the head with a bolt action, you expect them to drop.
Unfortunately, the aforementioned headshot has a chance of merely wounding the person. It makes no sense to randomize the PvP damage, and it definitely should be changed.
Because of this, sometimes it’ll render your armor completely useless against enemy weapons. You’ll find that some of the time it effectively reduces incoming damage, while the rest of the time you get killed very quickly.
This is a terrible mechanic, but it’s the way the game is. It’s important that you understand this going forward because you won’t always be the victor simply because you have the best armor.
The Hazmat Suit is the only item in this category even though other clothing items can help protect you from radiation. While you’ll be able to avoid most radiation with other items, the Hazmat Suit is definitely the best way to avoid radiation altogether.
They are usually quite easy to find in boxes or drops, and typically I have several in my base. Anytime you do a monument run that has a ton of radiation, equip one of these and you’ll be fine. However, you shouldn’t run around everywhere wearing it.
Not only will the yellow stand out more on the map, but also it offers barely any protection against weapons. You might as well go out naked and not risk losing your rad suit, so only use it when you need to avoid radiation.
Wooden Armor is the most basic armor you can get, but it’s well worth making. However there is only a helmet and a chest plate, so your legs will be exposed to everyone trying to attack you.
It’s very easy to make so there’s no excuse not to make a set for your travels. An even better alternative to the wooden helmet is the Wolf Headdress. Its only downside is that it’s a little worse for arrow protection than the Wooden Helmet, but besides that, it’s much better.
It can be a little more difficult to make since you need to kill a wolf for its skull, but that shouldn’t be an issue for most players. The Bucket Helmet is another decent option early game, but the Wolf Headdress outperforms it.
Bone Armor is another option for early game players, but it breaks very easily. It’s cheap to make and has a very slight stat advantage, but it’s so brittle that you could risk it breaking in PvP. You’d hate it if you got into a fight but only lose because your armor fell apart., so stick with a more durable option like Wooden Armor
Like I said before, even though the stats are better on paper, they aren’t majorly different from each other due to the RNG damage calculation. There will be the rare occasion where that small amount of extra stab protection will save your life, so it’s best to be better prepared. None of these items are difficult to make anyway, so you can use whatever you’re able to craft.
The Coffee Can Helmet is a helmet that is on par with the Wolf Headdress, except it gives a tiny amount of bullet protection that can save your life. Due to the bullet protection, getting head-shotted with a bolt action has a greater chance to not kill you.
However, this assumes that you had full health upon getting shot. A player at 80 health will most certainly die from a bolt action headshot. Because of this, many players simply use the Wolf Headdress instead. Whichever you wear is also determined by personal preference and resource availability, so just use whatever works for you.
There is also the Riot Helmet that looks much cooler than the previously mentioned helmets, but it’s only better against melee damage. People online seem to think that the Coffee Can Helmet is better for PvP, despite it being made out of a literal tin can. Again, survivability is decided by the RNG gods, so I prefer to use the Riot Helmet for the looks.
Besides these helmets, you’re also able to make Roadsign Armor, which has both a chest plate and leg armor. The Roadsign Jacket and the Roadsign Kilt are amazing pieces of armor that you need to equip as soon as you can. They aren’t the best in the game, but they do provide a good amount of protection that’ll make sure you stay alive much longer.
As far as end-game armor goes, it’s really not that hard to make. Some players will have this type of armor a few days into a wipe, so it’s worth making as soon as you can.
The best end game armors you can make for everyday use are the Metal Facemask and the Metal Chestplate. There isn’t any leg armor of this tier, so your best option for that is to use the Roadsign Kilt again.
Players with guns will patrol with this armor everywhere, so it’s extremely beneficial to make yourself these armor pieces early on. Many players resort to farming for materials while naked, which isn’t a bad idea. Doing that will save your expensive equipment so that you’ll have it when the time for raiding comes.
The Heavy Plate Armor is solely for base defense due to the drawbacks of wearing it. With it equipped, your movement speed is dramatically reduced and your vision is partially obstructed. It does give you quite a bit of defense, but it’s a terrible option to run around the map with.
I recall one time when my friends and I were brand new players and we each made ourselves a set of Heavy Plate Armor. There were 4 of us there and we were gonna go out raiding and pillaging all over the place. We each loaded up our automatic weapons, grabbed some explosives, and set out to terrorize people.
One of my friends said confidently, “I’ll almost feel bad for anyone who runs into us, because they don’t stand a chance.” Unfortunately, that statement proved very wrong. We got attacked by 2 nakeds living in the mountains, and they used our sluggishness and visual impairment to their advantage. They slaughtered all 4 of us and stole everything we had on us, and we returned back to our base defeated and demoralized.
Don’t make the same mistake we did and attempt to roam while wearing this. The only good use for Heavy Plate Armor is to defend against people raiding your base. Engaging enemies outdoors will only give them the advantage, even though you’ll have much more defense than them.