Guide last updated: April 25th, 2022 for Patch 1.5 - Bugs and Balance Update
Below is a chart that shows the weights of the different pieces of armor in New World, and which pieces you would wear in order to receive optimal mitigation for each weight class.
It's important to note that the shield does NOT provide any benefit in terms of attributes, perks, or mitigation unless you are actually using it. Simply having it equipped does not provide you with any benefits. It only adds weight to your load. Therefore, if you are running light or medium you do not need to have a shield equipped unless you planning on incorporating the sword and shield into your build.
It's Important to point out that there are other possible combinations that will provide you with 22.9 weight for the medium load, such as, light helmet, heavy chest, light gloves, heavy pants, and medium boots. However, this setup provides slightly less mitigation. You may however, want to consider this option as a viable way to switch between a light and medium build slightly easier depending on the gear pieces you are able to obtain.
About the Author:
BDLG is 1 of the 3 founders of StudioLoot. You can find BDLG on Twitch every Tuesday - Friday from 8:00am CST to 1:00pm CST, and creating content on the StudioLoot YouTube channel.