one thing I don't get with this whole needing thing for companions, especially while leveling, is that companions are so very easy to gear. as long as you have a set of moddable armor for them (which is also not that hard to get, as I've been doing that on every single character I have) - you just get appropriate mods and you are golden. (and like it was said few posts above me, orange gear for yourself - same story.
Not quite. Tanks and tank companions gear up pretty easily with planet comms (a dime a dozen if you're running daily FPS), but DPS and healers have it harder. Any given comm vendor is going to offer Guard and Commando armor one tier higher than any Skill or Might mod he carries. (And who in the world is using Patron? Why does it even exist
? Even in PvP you want Cunning more than health.) I've been using Corso for DPS on my Scoundrel, since I'm leveling with a Vanguard friend of mine, and it's been a complete pain in the arse getting him geared out without constantly shipping mods across faction from my cybertech. He did in fact spend fifteen levels wearing the Esseles trooper chest, with me slowly sticking better mods in it until I had the social for the Balmorran gear I actually wanted him in. It was the first free heavy orange shell I came across, and it came with mods that were a major upgrade for him at the time.
Of course, I greeded for it. Because I'm not a total douchebag.