Just so you know I never take offense at good advice from people that are way better at this than me, lol.
First off, thanks for all the advice, I can already see a few pounds disappearing. Second, I agree with you about the tent but there's really nothing we can do about it. We have to go with that tent or we can't afford a tent at all (due to an employee sale I can't disclose any further).
I checked out the pad you suggest and once again I agree, if I had $210 (after discount) to spend on sleeping pads these would be the ones on my list for sure! The choices I've got cost me only $70 instead. I got lucky that I found out that the REI Kids pad is just long enough for me, only 19oz and $40. The question is, is the saving of 18oz worth $140 and having to wait an extra month before we can even start. I was just thinking that in a hobby where weather is a factor we really couldn't risk losing another whole year by saving 2-5 lbs in gear that cost several hundred more. Maybe next time when we replace our gear, it'll be an option.
I do have a question on how do I make a down quilt small enough to fit into a cheaper smaller pack without a compression sack? After doing some more research on down I see what you mean and I had been considering down previously, I'm just not sure how it works without the compression. I was only planning on one at all for the quilt.
My other worry is the water bottles, they can't compress at all they will always take the same space no matter what they weigh, whereas the camelbaks distribute the water in a flatter and more even shape. If pack size is an issue wouldn't it be worth the extra oz.? Although I grew up in Az so I'm sure I've just over calculated the amount of water we'll need in Ga, we will be getting the 2L instead.
About rain gear, I'm a complete idiot when it comes to this subject due to a life spent in the desert where if it rains you don't put a jacket on, you put out all your extra pots and enjoy being not dusty. So maybe this is totally stupid but even with a jacket and a rain cover for your pack won't the straps and back get wet anyway? The poncho covers both person and pack. We don't really have what one would call backpacking rain jackets, just wind breakers that work more or less. They are very lightweight and I doubt I could do much better without spending scads of money, so we had the ponchos as a backup and I was considering using mine as my emergency shelter, but I was concerned that all the websites and books I've found said that I should always be careful doing this sort of thing if you have never backpacked before. But if the likelihood of us getting separated is so slim I'll fore-go the caution.
The stove has a regulator which means I have a 4min boil time at the beginning and end of every canister that causes me to carry 1/2 the fuel as any other stove I found for the same price. I figured that was worth it. As for the "cookset" It's 1L pot with lid, a plastic bowl and bag. The bowl weighs less than those sold separately. Actually I really ought to weight it with what I'm taking, probably weighs less than I think. It came with two forks and a stove bag I was going to leave at home.
As it is the things we will for sure change has already saved me 3-5lbs that I can tell already.