If you don’t mind making your own, the tarp kit from Quest Outfitters is similar in dimensions to the MLD Grace Duo and GG SilTwinn and is only $55. It weighs 12.65oz when complete. You could also make a copy of the Six Moon Designs Meteor Bivy (plans on the website) for around $40. This would get you a really nice all southeast weather setup for $100 that should weigh in around 20oz before stakes.
I have both the GG Mariposa Plus and the GG Gorilla and they are great packs. If you need a new pack and are on a tight budget, it seems the Golite Jam and Granite Gear Vapor Trail packs can be found at steep discounts.
The Ridgerest should be good for three season camping in the Southern Appalachians and you can always layer another pad with it in the winter.
As far as sleeping bags go there is no cheap alternative, but if you have the sewing ability to do it, the Thru Hiker Quilt is a fantastic deal. You can make a quilt with 12oz of down for $130(1.1 ripstop) to $150(0.9 Momentum) that should weigh around 21oz.
I don’t have any experience with Softshells so I can’t tell you how well the Mistral pants would work here, but I tend to think they would be too hot most of the time. I hike in shorts in the summer and supplex nylon pants the rest of the year. I find that while hiking, my legs are fine even in the coldest temps you can expect here.
I am assuming that you are wearing one shirt during the day and using the other at camp and to sleep in. While some don’t agree with that philosophy, that is exactly what I do.
You can save a lot of weight with your rain gear and do it reasonably cheap. For rain jackets you could go for a Marmot Essence on sale if you can still find one in the size you need (my M weighs 6.4oz) or go with a Golite Virga (8oz on sale at Golite for $56). You could also go with a DriDucks Jacket. They are only $15 and mine weighs 5.1oz. You hear things about the durability, and while it is true they are not bomber, I used mine for a year of on trail hiking (800 miles) and it still is serviceable.
For rain pants, you could either use the Dri Ducks Pants (less durable) or if you happen to be an XL, Golite has the Reed pants still on sale (5.5oz).
Your insulation layers are a bit heavy, but on a tight budget, I would probably leave them as they are for now. In the future you might look into the Mont-Bell UL Down Inner Jacket/Vest. They would cut your insulation weight by more than half.
For headwear, the Balaclava looks good, and even the Watch Cap might be OK, but that seems a little heavy. What is the Bomber Hat? What hat do you hike in during cooler weather? I know it is kind of an odd ball place to find stuff like this but I like the Thermacheck 100 stuff from Lands End. The Watch Cap weighs 0.85oz, the Balaclava 1.15oz and the Gloves 1oz.
For your hands I would take more than one pair of liner gloves. I generally take one for hiking and one for camp in cooler weather. If you are looking for an alternative to the relatively expensive MLD eVent rain mitts (they are great BTW), you could either make your own or get some silnylon (non-breathable) ones from d-endeavors.com $28.
You could always make your own alcohol stove to save some weight with your stove. This is particularly useful on shorter trips so you don’t have to lug around the heavy canister. Everything else looks good except I would drop the drinking cup.
I would repackage your water treatment into smaller containers as that is probably enough water treatment for six months of trips. I am trying to figure out how much water you will be carrying but you shouldn’t ever need to carry more than 2 liters of water hiking here. I know some like bladders, but I prefer 2 Gatorade bottles.
I know you said that is the least you feel comfortable with, but you might still be able to take the weight down some. I know my kit is probably a little thin but here is what I carry:
8 Advil in a button ziplock
2 Benadryl in a button ziplock
2 Immodium in a button ziplock
1 Safety Pin
1 Alcohol Prep Pad
1 Single use Neosporin
1 Single use Super Glue
1 Vial Tincture of Benzion
3 feet of Leukotape P wrapped around a drinking straw
1 3*5 ziplock to carry it all
This kit weighs 0.7oz
You could go to a lighter knife like the Gerber LST (1.2oz) or the Spyderco Ladybug (0.6oz)
A mini bic is only 0.4oz
I would ditch the trowel and use a shoe heel, stick, trekking pole, etc.
You might also get some ideas from my gearlist as I do all of my hiking in the Southern Appalachians.
Southeast Spring&Fall Gear list
If you are on facebook, there are a group of us southeastern BPL’s on there that do trips. Check us out, we would love to have you along:
Southern Appalachian Backpacking Light