Best trick I found to do. Once you have a good selection of equipment, equip the best low weight gear (mostly purple); look at the status effect it gives & the weight. Equip the best gear till your weight is 30% or under. Soul match all your equipped gear with the highest level gear of its sort, so it'll keep the same weight + stats, but it'll upgrade the defense. Next you can change the look of all your equipped gear to your liking, from your selection of gear.
This giving you the highest defensive gear in the lowest weight class + bonus status effects & you can make your guy look how you want.
Level 37 now. Done the first two main missions by myself, + on Torii Gates (co-op), a bit of summoning co-op finding the Kodama's! So cute! + helping defeat the second boss & also completed the side missions. Will move on the 3rd story mission tomorrow.