Ranger was the very first class I played as a brand new D&D player. In fact, it was the 5th Edition D&D ranger, Trajen (yes, named after the Roman Emperor – A+ to you history buffs…or Civ 6 players) who was my very first character in any TTRPG campaign. A dozen new amazing friends and nearly a decade later, and it’s safe to say that I am a TTRPG fan and the 5E ranger holds a special place in my heart. So why do you need to know about the best 5E feats for rangers?
Because even as a new player it became very clear to me that the ranger’s power fell off badly in the mid to late game, and even in the early game some feats are essential to making any ranger build work in 5th Edition.
While the right feat for any Ranger character is totally dependent on the kind of build a player is going for, there are a handful of feats that stand out for the Ranger class. Here’s my short list from years of playing 5E D&D for the best feats for the Ranger class.
This feat is a no-brainer for Rangers, as their purpose is to defend the outskirts of civilizations from monsters and evils that come from the wild. Thematically it’s perfect as you expect the lone wilderness wanderer moving through the hardest, wildest, and most isolated parts of civilization to be aware of what’s around them at all times.
Mechanically, Alert is pretty epic, too.
– You gain a +5 bonus to initiative.
– You can’t be surprised while you are conscious.
– Other creatures don’t gain advantage on attack rolls against you as a result of being unseen by you.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, Feats
Before we even discuss the features of this feat, let me just remind you that it increases your initiative by +5 … permanently. This is a huge boost, especially helpful to those with low dexterity. It also puts you towards the beginning of roll call, so you have more opportunities to attack during a combat encounter or to set up the perfect position in a fight before things really get going.
Being higher on the initiative track may just seem like it is more fun than waiting for your turn, but mechanically it makes a major difference, especially for heavy hitters, which a well-built ranger definitely is up to mid-levels.
If there were a 6v6 tavern brawl, and one side gets 3 hits in before the other team, they could take out one or two of the enemy brawlers and prevent them from dealing any potential damage. An initiative boost may not seem like much, but it could be the difference between getting knocked on your back and taking a few blows or getting back 20 feet and sending off a few arrows.
Also, with Alert, as long as your character is conscious, you cannot be surprised. That means no matter how bad your perception check when an ambush happens, you always get to act before the “official” round one. With a very good initiative roll (which, again, the Alert feat helps you with), means you even have a chance to move before the creatures or enemies that successfully ambushed your party.
As a Ranger, that gives you a great advantage over all enemies and puts you in a great position as a leader in your company. Sometimes, depending on the DM, DM’s will honor that feat with situational perception buffs, such as letting you not only sense an attack, but warn a party member about it as well.
Lastly, it sharpens your senses and eliminates any attack advantages enemies would have otherwise had from being unseen. No hiding in bushes or hiding in the dark!
Check out our full 5E Alert feat guide here!
The Sharpshooter feat basically allows for an easy kill from any distance. This is a must take for every ranged build whether ranger, fighter, or bard. Not only does this feat drastically include the range to hit but it also gives ability to make those tricky shots only an expert could make while also choosing to forego accuracy for the ability to add some massive additional damage.
To break it down, take a look at this list of what it can do for your character:
– Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls.
– Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.
– Before you make an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a –5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, Feats
Sharpshooter also pairs well with other feats you can select, especially if they increase your dexterity stat. Take, for example, #6 on our list – Piercer. If as a Ranger, you plan on using primarily ranged attacks, this can be a really strong feat. It is basically the stronger, ranged equivalent of Great Weapon Master.
Check out our full 5E Sharpshooter feat guide here!
– Increase your Intelligence or Wisdom score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– If you can see a creature’s mouth while it is speaking a language you understand, you can interpret what it’s saying by reading its lips.
– You have a +5 bonus to your passive Wisdom (Perception) and passive Intelligence (Investigation) scores.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, Feats
Observant is another great selection for a Ranger. One of the best traits of this feat is that it provides an additional +5 to Passive Wisdom (Perception) as well as Passive Intelligence (Investigation) both of which are popular tropes of what makes rangers good at what they do.
Another benefit of Observant is that it can increase either your character’s Wisdom or Intelligence by +1, up to 20.
This feat allows you to notice your environment better, avoid traps, check for monsters, and even improve spellcasting.
Maybe the coolest feature about achieving this feat is that, if you are close enough to read the lips of enemies, you can interpret what they are saying as long as they are speaking a language you understand. When combined with a helm of comprehend languages that can prove extremely useful for getting information that would otherwise be unavailable.
Observant is an excellent choice for gathering information and seeing enemies before being seen. Of the options in this list, Observant definitely offers the most utility out of combat and makes most any ranger build perfect for reconnaissance.
Check out our full 5E observant feat guide here!
– Your speed increases by 10 feet.
– When you use the Dash action, difficult terrain doesn’t cost you extra movement on that turn.
– When you make a melee attack against a creature, you don’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature for the rest of the turn, whether you hit or not.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, Feats
Rangers need to be quick and have proficiency in speed. The Mobile feat increases speed by 10 feet, which is a massive jump considering it is the kind of buff monks get early on as a class and this is simply a feat.
What is especially nice is that Mobile gives rangers a way out of melee combat so they can shine as a ranged support character. One thing rangers don’t want is for melee enemies to cover the gap. The mobile feat allows rangers to move out of range and get further out of the way if somehow enemies do manage to close the gap.
Add in how rangers are often high in stealth and scout for the party and mobile is just a super useful feat that will be utilized on a consistent basis in your games.
Check out our full 5E mobile feat guide here!
5. Skill Expert
– Increase one ability score of your choice by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice.
– Choose one skill in which you have proficiency. You gain expertise with that skill, which means your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with it. The skill you choose must be one that isn’t already benefiting from a feature, such as Expertise, that doubles your proficiency bonus.Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Chapter 1, Feats
Sort of a freebie, this feat adds +1 to any ability since it is a half feat, but it’s a great way to bridge to an even number for Dexterity or Wisdom since those or core stats for the ranger, or even Constitution for more hit points.
It also allows a player to become proficient in whatever skill they desire. An extra skill proficiency and the bonus that comes with it is a great bonus in and of itself, but this even goes one step further by adding expertise.
By class expertise is usually just reserved for bards and rogues, and expertise is when you double the proficiency bonus for a skill. Want to be invisible? Add this to stealth to double the proficiency bonus, which means +12 for high level characters. That’s pretty insane.
Skill Expert is a great pick for a beginning player as it is much easier to track during play than many other feats.
Check out our full 5E skill expert feat guide here!
– Increase your Strength or Dexterity by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– Once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack that deals piercing damage, you can reroll one of the attack’s damage dice, and you must use the new roll.
– When you score a critical hit that deals piercing damage to a creature, you can roll one additional damage die when determining the extra piercing damage the target takes.Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Chapter 1, Feats
The Piercer is also pretty radical, especially when combined with common Ranger character traits that just keep adding more damage dice to what they’re doing, especially when using a bow. With it, your Dexterity or Strength is increased by +1, all the way up to 20, which for a ranger is 99.9% guaranteed to be Dexterity.
The Piercer feat is all in the dice… but if you don’t like your results, you may just be in luck. After your first go, if you hit a creature in a piercing attack, Piercer lets you reroll a damage die – be aware that you do have to use the newest number. So re-rolling a 1 is a no-brainer, a 2 is probably a good bet, and after that it’s all about how much you want to gamble.
Not only this but with a critical roll involving piercing, you are allowed to roll an extra damage die. This will add to the damage that the target must take on top of the likely d6 from Hunter’s Mark, d8 from Colossus Slayer, and possible multiple d6’s from sneak attack if you’re a common Ranger-Rogue multiclass (it’s a good one).
As mentioned earlier, this feat pairs really well with #2 on our list – Sharpshooter, and makes a lot of sense for a Ranger looking for the perfect half feat to get up to the next even number Dexterity score.
Check out our full 5E Piercer feat guide here!
7. Fey Touched
– Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20
– Learn the misty step spell that can be used for free once per long rest
– Learn another 1st level divination or enchantment spell of your choice that can be used for free once per long restTasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Chapter 1, Feats
This is one of my favorite feats in all of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Fey Touched is an amazing feat that allows the ranger one of three stats to get to an even number with a +1 boost (Wisdom being the most likely option) while adding an incredibly useful and powerful spell in misty step in addition to another spell from one of two schools of magic which allows you to customize that spell to how you want to play your Ranger makes the feat even stronger.
Adding to the spell list of a partial caster like the ranger is powerful in and of itself, but having 2 free casts and a powerful spell like Misty Step that fits right into what a Ranger wants to do makes it even better, and story-wise, absolutely fits into the idea of the explorer character who has been to some places you can’t even begin to imagine.
Check out our full 5E Fey Touched feat guide here!
8. Shadow Touched
– Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– You learn the invisibility spell and can cast it for free once per long rest
– You learn another spell of your choice from the necromancy or illusion schools of magic and cast it for free once per long restTasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Chapter 1, Feats
Shadow Touched is the Shadowlands version of Fey Touched and is another excellent choice. Any ranger would love to be able to cast invisibility to help with stealth checks and there are many interesting spells in both necromancy and illusion that can really add to a Ranger’s abilities.
These spells can each be cast once for free, then they can be cast more as long as the Ranger has the open spell slots. Add these in with a terrifying experience in the Ranger’s backstory to explain the powers, mend it in with the stealth and ability to set up an ambush, and you have a winning combo there.
Check out our full 5E Shadow Touched feat guide here!
Wildcard: Actor Feat
– Increase your Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
– You have advantage on Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Performance) checks when trying to pass yourself off as a different person.
– You can mimic the speech of another person or the sounds made by other creatures. You must have heard the person speaking, or heard the creature make the sound, for at least 1 minute. A successful Wisdom (Insight) check contested by your Charisma (Deception) check allows a listener to determine that the effect is faked.Player’s Handbook, Chapter 6, Feats
Lastly, the Actor feat. This particular feat may get overlooked for Rangers, but it can be extremely helpful. This allows you to imitate other characters and pretend to be them. Depending on your skill level and charisma, you can pretend to be anyone (and pass).
This feat increases charisma by +1 and plays role in Deception and Performance. It allows you to act your way out of trouble. This is much more often for rogues and bards, but in certain interesting situations this could work for a creative Ranger.
Rangers are defenders and find themselves in tricky situations all the time. Being able to mimic a creature’s sound after failing a stealth check, faking a person’s voice while around a brigand camp, or otherwise using these mimicry skills to help the party out of tight situations can be an interesting and creative use of a feat.
If the Ranger build also happens to provide proficiency in thieves’ tools, heists that might have originally been elaborate, difficult, and messy could now be completed by one person relatively quickly.
Check out our full 5E Actor feat guide here!
The Best Feats for Rangers, In Conclusion
Rangers can be used for some very interesting builds, but the hunter with the bow, master of all things archery with just enough magic to support is where the ranger is going to sit in most parties, and adding some of these feats is going to create a strong and fun character who can hold his/her own while contributing to the party’s success and having some fun along the way.
Other DnD Articles You May Enjoy
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- Full 5E Feat Guide
- Full 5E Racial Feat Guide
- Charisma Barbarian Pathfinder
- How Does Passive Perception Work?
Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.