I learned to ride dirtbikes since I was a kid and have been riding mostly off road most of my life.
I actually regret selling my DRZ 400 S, as it was a bike that could do everything I ever asked of it
while riding trails and water crossings etc. But at the end of the day it really had its limits when
taking it to the tarmac. Which is why I wanted something bigger.
That being said, what about not getting another bike at all? With the riding you described, you
can just take your hard luggage off and put soft on. Balance? For more confidence, put a low seat
on and for traction put some Heidenau scouts on. I have takin my GSA through the fire roads, gravel,
hard and soft dirt, and in the end? I was very surprised just how good these big bikes are off road, and
there is tons of power when you need it. Of course if you want to do deep water crossings and lots
of rocky terrain... then sure a light dirt bike would be better.