Yes companions are an integral piece of the game.
That said, you can't bring your companions to anywhere you would actually need them having instance gear. When people roll need for companions, I just put them on ignore so GF won't again place me with people who are either that inconsiderate or that unintelligent.
Considering that instance gear is probably better than most quest rewards, I can't see how you can say that people can't bring their companions to places where they would need instance gear. They can't be used in raids, but they can be used in instances and for heroics. Having a companion as geared as possible makes them much more effective, just as a player's toon is more effective if geared well.