Can someone pls suggest a proven universal kayak carrier. I’ve found this setup on rei http://www.rei.com/product/619248 but from the looks of it I’m not sure it will work with my vehicle (Saturn SC1). Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
fine for a starter "rack"
I think many of us have started out with that exact carrying kit. In fact, though I’ve “graduated” to a fancy Thule rack with padded J-cradles, I still use the original grey foam blocks from the set and some of the black straps on the other side of the rack to carry a second boat. The main drawback to the foam blocks is that they can be a pain to keep stable when you are loading a heavy boat alone. Also, you have to be very conscientious about tethering the bow and stern to the car bumpers because it is tough to really cinch down the middle of the boat without a strong metal rack to back it up.
Overall, you can’t beat the price and, as I’ve said, even if you get a rack someday the components are useful.
I use w/crossbars
I have a set of those and use it with crossbars. They say you can use it straight on the roof of a car, but I only did that once (rental car with rental boat in Hawaii - worked, but wouldn’t want to do that again).
One thing to keep in kind is that these racks don’t have a solid connection to the rack, so there isn’t much keeping them from shifting side to side. Can be uncomfortable to watch your boat shift while you are driving. Bow/stern lines help prevent this. As could wrapping the straps at the cross bars around something (like the upright part of the rack) along with around the crossbars.
Here's a picture of what I meant as a means to keep the boat from shifting side to side. By putting the twist around the upright, the boat can't shift side to side.