I've topped all sorts of things on my Ford focus and driven 1000's of miles at highway speeds over the last few years. I've had up to a 16 ft canoe and have even squeezed 2 kayaks up there at once. I don't use any pads, but carry the boats upside down and lash securely to a cheap SportRack brand on the roof, and I have a support that fits to the receiver hitch in the rear that is homeade, but similar to this: https://www.amazon.com/Reese-Towpower-7018100-Canoe-Loader/dp/B0024FOTOW
. The trick to loading is to lift the back half of the boat on the rear support first before doing the front.
I have a lightweight trailer that I'll pull if I need to carry a lot of junk, but I find that topping the boats makes things much simpler.