We've used predominately Canon products. T2i hacked with Magic Lantern, T3i, 7D, and a 60D.
If you're looking for cheap and introductory I would say the T3i is solid and you can always hack it with Magic Lantern if that's your thing.
The most versatile lens we use is a Bower Macro fisheye, retails for about 150ish depending on where you look. You can find the same one from Rokinon as well. Then there's the standard 18 to 55 2.5, 75 to 300 long lens, and a few others. Most people could just use a fisheye and be fine.
A lot of people are using this thing since it's cheap. Vello ActionPan Professional Grade Stabilizing Action VB-1000
There's a reason it's cheap it gets a lot of vibration and sway in it once you mount a camera with a fisheye to it.
This is more what I use for standing on knuckles to get the panning shot as well as some follow cam. Dot Line GearBox 2 Accessory Cage CS-GB2 B&H Photo Video
You want a handle attached to the top middle that faces forward as well. The ability to have bolt on accessories really helps, especially if attaching a light or shotgun mic.
If you're going to get really technical with the follow cam then go with a glidecam. Glidecam HD2000 Stabilizer System GLHD2 B&H Photo Video
When you get into tripods you want a fluid head as that makes doing panning shots from a fixed position a ton easier.
I've never had condensation form on my equipment, but when shooting in the cold when I come inside I just leave everything inside my bag till it warms up to room temperature, then I play around with it.