I would like to get the bike a little lower, right now I can just touch my toes but can lean a little to one side and get more foot down.
You may find the Wee-Strom better height wise, I can't speak for the lower seat available with the Versys. My wife and daughter are both about 5' 8" and are unable to handle the Versys with any confidence with the stock seat. Point to Wee-Strom here.
I will be riding on some dirt roads, live on one, so the concern of suspension travel comes in here. How does the V handle on packed to loose gravel bumpy dirt roads? Would it be better with more aggressive dual sport tires?
The Wee-Strom wins hands down on any gravel or dirt road. Another point to the Wee-Strom.
Want some hard side cases. Would you go with GIVI or Kawi's or is there something else to consider?
Kawi's hard luggage is made by Givi. There are cheaper Givi Alternatives such as the E21's that don't look too bad, but sacrifice capacity.
Why should I go with the V over a Vstrom? Looked at the Vstrom but leaning more towards the Kawi. I have a 2002 Kawasaki Concours now and have had no problems with it, it is for sale by the way if anyone is looking. So I like the company and their products.
I chose the Versys because I felt that the Wee-Strom was dated looking and didn't handle as well on the street, however, the motor is very strong in the Wee and with it's better off pavement capabilities, the Wee-Strom may be a better alternative. My daughter rides a GS500F and the build quality is no less than the Versys.
I think you'd be happy with either bike, I have ridden my Versys on gravel roads and not sustained any damage to the exhaust, the OEM tires are not adequate for anything other than casual riding off pavement in my opinion. I think it would be more difficult and expensive to try to adapt the Versys to fill your needs than to start out with the Wee-Strom.
Good luck and good riding with whatever you chose.