My rush to get to the end zone right away with a first time refractor and an EQ mount may be too much of a challenge. As noted by you building the sky navigation skills first is important. I did get a pair of Celestron binoculars to start my sky learning curve.
I will start looking at alt az mounts for a 4" refractor.
It is not that the EQ mount is a challenge to use, it is that unless you are going to image, there is no benefit in using one over an Alt-az mount.
The mount I would recommend for a refractor is the IOptron Az Pro mount and there are several good reasons for this.
- The mount drive (not the tripod) is one of the lightest in the business and it is actually more stable than similar capacity GEM mounts.
- For lighter scopes, you don't need a counterweight, and this helps keep the weight down
- The mount has built in GPS
- With careful levelling (and many have re-calibarated the factory level which is not always accurate) you can get amazing pointing with just a single star alignment
- Not that you think you would need it, but the mount can carry two telescopes. Now if you ever get into solar observing and pick up an H-alpa scope, it is fantastic to be able to use a white light telescope on one side, and an H-alpha scope on the other. Or you could use a C8 on one side and a 4" Apo on the other. Now you don't have to use two telescopes, but having a mount that can allow you to use two telescopes is a boon for observing
Now, if your budget allows, and you want to save even more weight, here is my specific recommendation. If you were to get the Az pro, I would buy just the mount head and for the tripod, I would put it on the Avalon T-90. This is one of the stiffest and lightest tripods on the market, and it folds up really small. This is a lighter and smaller tripod than the standard tripod, and while it would cost more, if you just buy the Az pro head, the cost difference is not huge.
IOptron sells an upgrade to the standard tripod for the Az pro called the Tri-Pier and this is an amazing tripod, but the weight is 25 lbs. The T90 is only 10 lbs, and folds into a smaller package. Now to be fair, I don't know the weight of the standard tripod on the Az Pro, but I have the standard tripod on my Minitower pro, and I am pretty sure that it weighs more than 10 lb, and it is not as compact as my friends Avalon T-110. The question here though is will you be willing to carry the mount and tripod out in two trips? If so then the standard tripod is probably fine.
(The Avalon T-90 would be best if the scope is a shorter scope. Otherwise, you would do better with the Avalon 110 or you would want to add an extension to the T-90. This raises the weight. )
The big mistake most beginners make is to think that the mount is not as important as the tripod, and the reality is that these should be weighted equally. A good telescope that is capable of high power use can be very frustrating to use when the tripod and mount are shaky.
(You can buy high quality Alt-az mounts that are lighter. Stellarvue sells a really excellent mount for about $600. If you want to use digital setting circles on it though, by the time you have all of the encoders and DSC computer, you are going to spend as much as the Az Pro on the standard tripod.)
This is probably the best DSC computer on the market. This combined with the Stellarvue mount would be a very light setup. You would need an encoder kit too. But as you can see, by the time you add up the cost, the Az-Pro looks pretty good.
Do yourself a favor though. If you are not going to image, get yourself a really high quality Alt-az mount, and if your budget allows, you can get a pretty light weight mount and tripod. There is nothing out there to compare with the Avalon if the goal is both high stability and light weight.