It depends what frame format you record in. If you shoot interlaced, most any HDV camcorder or deck will work. If you shoot progressive, i.e. 25p or 30p, only Canon devices will work, due to a proprietary method to write to the tape.
The least expensive HDV camera that Canon still sells is the HV40, but I'm sure you could pick up a HV20 or HV30 fairly cheap on eBay or such.
That said, head wear is largely a myth for these cameras, but if you are starting and stopping the tape a lot for transfer, worrying about wear on the transport mechanism is not unrealistic.
I think its a myth too. Camera's are made to handle capture.
I (used to) capture with the A1 (sold it) the whole tape in one go with scene detection and later on deleted the scenes that are unsuable.
I still have a HV20 just for capturing tapes.