It's really a "get what you pay for" scenario up to a certain point. That pack is probably worth every cent of $50. It will get the job done, sure. But it might not be as comfortable, will be lacking features that you might really want, might not breathe as well, and just might not fit your body. I hiked for the longest time with a Jansport 50L backpack, and didn't know what I was missing until I stepped up in price (and quality). Like glenn said, that 20º bag probably won't really keep you warm at such a low temperature. How low can it go? Well, do you want to find out that it can't even get the job done when it's 31º? Thats the low tonight in Alexandria, btw.
A good middle ground between big box stores and cottage vendors are sporting goods stores. A tent (or tarp, bivvy, hammock system, whatever) might be hard to find, but there should be a better selection bags and backpacks. Not the best stuff in the world, but certainly a step up. Beyond that REI is a great source for just about all of the extras you might need, and Campsaver.com can have some pretty good deals.
If you wanted to go nuts Massey's in New Orleans has a staff that knows what they're talking about and can actually fir you for a pack. Pricey though, and they don't have a very good selection of shelters (they carry a lot of brands and can order just about anything).
Edited by Mr. Jowee (12/30/14 07:17 PM)