Wow, so much to consider. I'm honestly not sure how wide I need my tires to be. In PA we have a lot of loose gravel and there are some light singletrack trails through fields that I would ride on. Otherwise, I have a mountain and a road bike, so would probably defer to them for the extremes. I'm going to try to pop into the LBS tomorrow to talk to them about the Ridley X-Trail and they also sell Scott and Kona.
bethlikesbikes I live here in Pa. and have done 2 Pa. gravel rides. No I probably don't need that for Pa(40 mm tire). but if you are ever going to or thinking about going to the MidWest to ride you probably should consider a bike that can fit a 40 mm tire. A mt. bike would work some on the extremes but not your road bike. I will give you an example on a Pa. ride. On the Maple City Century at Honesdale. Lots of riders were riding their roadie bikes with probably 28 mm tires. They really had to pick and choose their lines especially when they were in the rough stuff and also going downhill they had to go slow. At my end with my gravel bike I could let it rip and not really worry about picking my lines. I thought maybe that is what you were getting a gravel bike for to ride in any kind of terrain. I also know the more money you can afford to spend upfront in the beginning as long as the bike fits you the less you will have to spend later on with upgrades. Good luck in whatever you buy. Zman
If it was easy it wouldn't be a memory. You just hope you don't have all your memories in the same ride. been there dun that Zman